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Columbia River boys soccer rolls past R.A. Long 7-1 to secure third straight 2A district championship

Rapids have scored 15 goals over last two games heading into 2A state tournament

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 9, 2024, 10:37pm
13 Photos
Columbia River's Beckham Young (11) signals to the crowd to get loud after a goal scored by JP Guzman (10) during the Class 2A district boys soccer championship against R.A. Long, on Thursday, May 9, 2024, at Kiggins Bowl.
Columbia River's Beckham Young (11) signals to the crowd to get loud after a goal scored by JP Guzman (10) during the Class 2A district boys soccer championship against R.A. Long, on Thursday, May 9, 2024, at Kiggins Bowl. (Will Denner/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Inside Columbia River’s locker room a whiteboard displaying an open box is now checked, signifying the Rapids boys soccer team has accomplished their latest goal.

This one, for winning the Class 2A District 4 championship, was completed Thursday when River blitzed R.A. Long from the opening whistle to earn a 7-1 win at Kiggins Bowl, just two days after defeating Tumwater 8-0 in the semifinals.

JP Guzman’s hat trick highlighted a goal-scoring barrage that started with a Ryland Perron goal just two minutes into the match, while the Rapids’ defense held the Lumberjacks out of net until Krager Clark’s goal inside the final 10 minutes. All told, the Rapids have won three straight district championships (sixth overall since 2017) through multiple iterations of the program.

“I think it shows a lot of dedication and the philosophy of the program, that it’s not just what group is here at the moment; it’s the ideals that stay throughout,” senior defender Carver Taylor said. “To be there all three years and then to cap my senior off with this feels good.”

The result capped a week in which the Rapids outscored two opponents 15-1 by utilizing a dynamic attack that can strike from seemingly any position. While Guzman is typically the primary playmaker, a host of secondary creators have given the Rapids plenty of options to work with.

“I feel like we’ve grown a lot since the beginning of the season,” Guzman added. “Some kids have really taken over the role in creating plays for us and we’ve just grown on from that.”

It’s a stark contrast for a team that once leaned heavily on the scoring ability of striker Alex Harris, now a freshman at Cornell who led the Rapids to last season’s state championship.

“This year, we talked about at the beginning of the season, we need to make sure everybody’s contributing and we’re doing everything together,” River coach Matt Newman said. “No matter if it’s in the back line, midfield or the attack, we need to make sure that we’re constantly pushing forward and trying to score in different ways. Be dynamic as much as we can, as often as we can in every game. They’ve done that. I’ve been really proud of them all year, and I feel like we can keep that momentum going.”

After Perron’s goal kickstarted River early, Pytor Henrichs-Tarasenkov followed suit in the 20th minute with a goal on a scramble in the box following a corner kick. Guzman and Tito Banuelos added goals to give the Rapids a 4-0 lead at the break.

With two Guzman goals in the opening 20 minutes of the second half, the Rapids held a commanding 6-0 advantage.

“Scoring seven in the final is not exactly normal. I think it definitely wakes up and hopefully sends a message to the rest of the state that we’re ready,” Taylor said.

Indeed, it’s a rarity for any team to win back-to-back games by such lopsided margins a district tournament. But after the Rapids hoisted the district trophy and snapped a few pictures, Newman and fellow coaches brought the team’s attention back to that whiteboard.

With the Rapids checking off a 2A Greater St. Helens League title and now, a district championship, a new box is open for the 2A state championship. That pursuit begins when pairings for the 2A state tournament are announced Sunday.

“We’ll definitely celebrate this and on Monday we’ll get back to work,” Guzman said.

The Rapids are eager to defend their title.

“Honestly, I think we’re feeling good. We’re really in our moment, I’d say,” Taylor said. “A lot of the boys were around the program last year for that playoff environment, so they know what it feels like, they know what’s like to win or lose (and) go home. I think we’re ready for it.”

COLUMBIA RIVER 7, R.A. LONG 1

R.A. Long

Goals (assists) — Krager Clark (Beiro Orozco). Goalkeeper saves — Raul Sanchez 3.

Columbia River

Goals — Ryland Perron (Tyler Brown), Pytor Henrichs-Tarasenkov (Alexander Pont), JP Guzman (Beckham Young), Fidel Banuelos (unassisted), Guzman (Mason Renner), Guzman (Kyle Miranda), Aadi Laud (penalty kick). Goalkeeper saves — Cameron Harris 2.

Halftime — 4-0 Columbia River

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