<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=192888919167017&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Thursday,  May 30 , 2024

Linkedin Pinterest
News / Sports / Prep Sports

Columbia River boys soccer building up to last year’s success

Rapids not same team that won 2A state title in 2023, but are trying to get there

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published: April 12, 2024, 6:05am
11 Photos
Columbia River junior Fidel Banuelos breaks away toward scoring a goal against R.A. Long during the Rapids' 4-0 win over R.A. Long in a 2A Greater St. Helens League boys soccer match at Columbia River High School on Tuesday, April 9, 2024.
Columbia River junior Fidel Banuelos breaks away toward scoring a goal against R.A. Long during the Rapids' 4-0 win over R.A. Long in a 2A Greater St. Helens League boys soccer match at Columbia River High School on Tuesday, April 9, 2024. (Tim Martinez/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Halfway through the 2A Greater St. Helens League season, the Columbia River boys soccer team appears to be picking up where the Rapids left off last season when they captured the 2A state championship.

But the 2024 Rapids insist they are still trying to get back to the level of the 2023 team.

“It’s a different team than last year,” senior goalkeeper Cam Harris said. “(Last year), we had been playing with the same boys for a couple of years. But (this year), it’s a new group of players, but we have a lot of talent, a lot of young talent. I feel like if we can push to our limits, we can do something good this season for sure.”

After graduating a core group of senior leaders from last year’s state championship team, the 2024 roster is filled with sophomores and juniors.

“Last year, we had a lot of good seniors,” River head coach Matt Newman said. “So a lot of these younger guys were able to develop together last season on the JV team and make contributions. We have some really amazing guys who have worked together for a full season, so I’m glad we can see that this year at the varsity level and try to build on it.”

Columbia River finished the first half of the league season 8-0 with a convincing 4-0 win over second-place R.A. Long on Tuesday.

And as they have done all season, the Rapids got goals from four different players on Tuesday — sophomore Alexander Pont and juniors Fidel Banuelos, Tyler Brown and Evan Roscoe.

“It’s spread out more this year,” senior defender Carver Taylor said. “The way we’re playing it’s a lot more free flowing. We’re going around a lot more, getting different people looks and opportunities. And we’re really deep this year. We make a lot of changes. So everyone’s in there, and we’re creating so many chances.”

River’s depth has helped in giving junior JP Guzman, the team’s second-leading scorer last year, more time to recover fully from an ankle injury. He has been out since March 23, and his return will make River even more potent on offense.

On the defensive end, the Rapids return experience in goal in Harris and junior Eli Smith as goalkeepers. But the River backline has been solid, keeping pressure off the keepers. River won seven of their eight league matches by shutout.

“The backline is super solid,” Harris said. “We’ve got great chemistry on that back line. At the start of the year, we started off a little bit rough, but everyone’s really come together and kind of embraced the concept of the team.”

But even the backline is filled with newcomers, anchored by Taylor, who is a team co-captain with Harris.

“I think the leadership that both Cam and Carver bring into the backline is really important in that role,” Newman said. “We’re replacing three of four of our backline players. So having the leadership of Carver and Cam is vital to securing those shutouts.”

Newman said that even though River is 8-0, the Rapids are still developing their teamwork and have work to do to get back to the level of the 2023 team.

“We are returning a lot of good players, but some of these younger players don’t know what it feels like to play in the state tournament,” Newman said. “So trying to develop that mentality for later down the road this season, getting prepared for some exciting soccer, some tough soccer is what we need to focus on.”

Taylor said the younger players watched what the 2023 team was able to accomplish. In the latter half of the season, the Rapids will need to work to follow the blueprint of that 2023 squad.

Morning Briefing Newsletter envelope icon
Get a rundown of the latest local and regional news every Mon-Fri morning.

“I think (the goal is) obviously staying undefeated, going 16-0,” Taylor said. “But also (it’s) pushing ourselves in those games. You know, it’s not always just the result for us; we need the performance, too. We need to work on the things that we can work on now so that (we’re ready) when we get to the heart of games down the line.”

Loading...