With a fresh group of athletes and a head coach new to the program, Westside Christian High School boys’ soccer is seeing success as they drive toward the 3A/2A/1A state playoffs.
To cap off four weeks’ worth of away games, the Westside Eagles stopped by Horizon Christian High School in Tualatin on Oct. 12 for a substantial 2-0 win – the first in these two schools’ history. The win brought the Eagles to 12th in the OSAA power rankings, making the chance at playoffs a possible scenario.
“It’s the first step,” Westside Head Coach Jason Housley told Tigard Life. “We needed this win today to give us a chance. We were in the top 10 earlier in the season, so we’re hoping to get back to that. We’re in the toughest league of the state just with the teams and they got rid of the fourth spot in the at-large, so only the three teams from this league will make it out to state.”
The program at Westside hasn’t seen the playoffs in the last decade – since the Tigard-based school was stationed in Lake Oswego. To make it this year, Westside would have needed to rank top three in their league or high enough state-wide to fill out the playoff bracket after league selections are made. To make it that far, Housley noted, would be a challenge, but one he’d take on in his first year with the team.
“My goal this year for this team is to make it to the district playoffs,” he said. “Whatever happens after that is just great. Just to get this team – who has not been to the district playoffs in years, in probably the last 8 to 10 years – there, that’s the first goal.”
How Westside fared with their league schedule was not only determined by their opponent, but by the wellness of the team. In their Horizon Christian game, the Eagles roster was short half a playing team.
“We were down five or six guys today just ill or sore, so we had only one sub,” Housley said. “We were short staffed today, so that was something where we had to come in here, we had to step up and guys stepped up today.”
This year’s team is comprised of two freshmen, seven sophomores, five juniors and five seniors, with only nine returning athletes from last year’s shortened spring season. One from the roster – freshman midfielder Luca Leontescu – entered the field for the first time against Horizon.
“We don’t have the most talent – and what I mean by that is experience with the game,” Housley said. “We did get a couple guys this year that have turned the program around so that’s what we’re looking for as the future of this program just to be a competitive team.”
The Eagles first met the Horizon Christian Hawks in 2019 after the Hawks’ first varsity team formed. To close the regular season, the Hawks won 4-3. This year, in the teams’ Sept. 8 season-opener, the teams left at a 1-1 draw. But the Eagles went through seven games since the season start and used their most recent meetup to gauge their improvement.
In the Oct. 12 rematch, Westside wasted no time and in the tenth minute, sophomore William Ficker brought the ball within arms’ reach of the goal off a pass from Brady Housley to strike through the center and gain an early 1-0 lead. This proved to be one of few, as through the next 68 minutes, neither team would finish on any attempt.
“We had some guys up there that aren’t used to being in those positions,” Coach Housley said, “so I did put 17 (Brady Housley) out on the right because he can get in there with his speed, but just being unable to know what to do with that kind of ball (in that position).”
Finally, as the last two minutes struck the clock, this changed. Coming off a diving catch by Westside freshman goalkeeper Gabe Wong, Seth Sorenson ran down the left side, faked a drive, crossed a Horizon defender and found the net up close to close out the game 2-0.
The win brought Westside to 4-3-1 on the season (1-2 league) and dropped Horizon to 3-4-1 (0-2 league).
But, in the boys’ soccer 3A division, the Lewis & Clark League remains one of the toughest, housing the top two ranking teams – Catlin Gabel and Riverdale – among similarly ranked Portland Adventist Academy and De La Salle North Catholic.
“We just got to take care of business the rest of the season to get to that playoff spot,” Coach Housley said.