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Heritage boys soccer team ends hectic week by handling Evergreen 3-1 in rivalry rematch

Timberwolves tout depth, experience as they aim to defend 3A GSHL title

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 19, 2024, 11:30pm

In a single word, the week the Heritage boys soccer team just went through would best be described as hectic.

The Timberwolves played three games in five days, starting with a pair of wins against Class 4A teams Skyview and Battle Ground.

That set the stage for Friday’s in-district rivalry game against Evergreen on Heritage’s senior night, no less. The Timberwolves handled it with aplomb, and by the end of a 3-1 win over the Plainsmen, they agreed it was among their finest performances of the season.

The result came at an important moment. With three games left in the team’s 3A Greater St. Helens League slate, Heritage (10-2, 4-1) is now just one point behind first-place Mountain View in the standings.

15 Photos
Heritage senior Pablo Sanchez-Barbosa (10) takes a penalty shot Friday, April 19, 2024, during the Timberwolves’ 3-1 win against Evergreen at Heritage High School.
Boys Soccer: Evergreen at Heritage Photo Gallery

“This is a big performance for us,” Heritage senior Pablo Sanchez-Barbosa said. “Last league game we played, we took a loss to Mountain View, and I think since then, we’ve worked to come back harder and stronger. I think this demonstrated it on the field.”

Sanchez-Barbosa scored two of the Timberwolves’ three goals, including a penalty kick in the eighth minute after colliding with Evergreen goalkeeper Christian Perez and drawing a foul. The senior captain opened the second half in similar fashion with a free-kick strike from more than 30 yards out.

But after Evergreen’s Diego Bejar countered a couple minutes with a goal, assisted by Chris Cruz, Heritage’s one-goal lead was far from safe.

That until stoppage time anyway, when Heritage junior Devyn Thomas provided the exclamation point. Sanchez Barbosa took a free kick from the left wing that found its way to the opposite corner near sophomore Aldo Herrera Malvaez, who swung a pass into the box where Thomas connected for the match-clinching goal.

Thomas said he was simply happy to help secure a win for his senior varsity teammates — Hakim Keita, Marcos Tobar Martinez, Kenan Zelkanovic, Luis Garcia Guerrero and Sanchez-Barbosa — on their night.

“It was amazing,” Thomas said. “It was great being able to run out and see how many people support us, and be able to give them what they wanted.”

From Heritage coach George Moya’s vantage point, the Timberwolves rose to the occasion in a rivalry game that required a little extra intensity, physicality and strategy. This year’s team, he said, also has a strength that serves them well in games like Friday: a deep bench of capable players who can provide fresh legs.

“The beauty of this team is we have depth on our bench,” Moya said. “So, when I’m looking at what’s lacking with our starting lineup, then I can look to the bench to try to change that up. I have confidence in them, I have full faith that they’re going to be able to do that. And, when in doubt, go again to the bench because we have that depth. We’re blessed in that way.”

Confidence has permeated throughout the program after the Timberwolves’ run in 2023, which included an undefeated 3A GSHL title, their first in 19 years, and a berth in the 3A bi-district playoffs.

They picked up where they left off this spring by winning their first seven games before falling to Mountain View and Union, one of the top-ranked 4A teams, in back-to-back games. Yet after this hectic week with three straight wins, the Timberwolves have put themselves in a favorable position for the final weeks of the regular season.

“I think we came into the season very confident,” Sanchez-Barbosa said. “We hit some bumps, but I think we’re back on track.

“That loss (to Mountain View) really put us in our place, you know? After that loss, we’re strong, we’re good. As a team, the energy’s just been so much better since then.”

HERITAGE 3, EVERGREEN 1

Evergreen

Goals (assists) — Diego Bejar (Chris Cruz).

Goalkeeper saves — Christian Perez 2. Match standouts — Jose Suarez, Chris Cruz.

Heritage

Goals (assists) — Pablo Barbosa-Sanchez (penalty kick), Barbosa-Sanchez (free kick), Devyn Thomas (Aldo Herrera Malvaez).

Goalkeeper saves — Jackson Graham 1, Eli Schewnker 2. Match standout — Leonel Herrera Malvaez.

Halftime — Heritage 1-0.

JV — Heritage 4-3.

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