Photo by Sverre Bakke
Columbia High Senior forward Jose Eudave, right, tries to run onto the ball before a Seton Prep defender can break up his attack during a March 20 1A Trico League match in Bruin Stadium. The Bruins led 3-1 at halftime en route to their first win of 2018, a 6-1 result.
As of Monday, April 9, 2018
When new Bruins Coach Matt Hardinge held tryouts for CHS’s varsity and junior varsity boys soccer, 36 players came out.
The players who turned out in 2018 included a number of members of last year’s Southwest District tournament runner-up: junior defender Cesar Isordia, senior goalkeeper Leo Cortez, senior forwards Jose Eudave and Brandon Alfaro, senior defender Fernado Celaya, sophomore midfielder Finn Coffin, and junior midfielder Liam Grim.
The team’s most exciting newcomer, according to Columbia's first-year coach, is freshman forward Jacob Lockman, “an accomplished runner.”
“I plan to rotate our four to five attackers throughout the season,” Hardinge said. “I have confidence in all of them chipping in with some goals throughout the season.”
Graduation hit the Bruins’ defensive back line and midfield hard, but Hardinge has found capable replacements to play in front of Cortez.
“Although we lost some important defenders at graduation, we are playing a new formation which suits the defenders left on our team,” Hardinge said. “So far they have been playing incredibly well together.”
The Bruins opened the season with a 1-0 non-conference loss at Highland on March 17. Three days later they picked up their first win, downing Seton Prep 6-1 here in Columbia’s 1A Trico League opener.
Through three Trico matches, CHS stood at 2-1. The Bruins were scheduled to visit defending Trico and district champion Toledo/-Winlock United on Tuesday.
Hardinge expects the Bruins to challenge for the Trico championship and be a team to be reckoned with in the post-season.
“Our team will be there in the post-season and our goal is to win the [state] championship,” CHS’s first-year coach said with confidence. “We have a great team spirit, quality group of guys, and when we play well, we have the opportunity to beat anyone this season. We must maintain the focus and hard work throughout the season and we’ll see what happens in the playoffs.”
Last year, the Bruins finished with a 10-8-1 record under Jaime Garcia, who has stepped into the role of assistant coach in 2018. They lost their first-round state tournament match, 1-0, to Seattle Christian.
Columbia scored its spot in the field of 16 with a 3-0 victory over Montesano in the Southwest District consolation match.
The Bruins missed the state playoffs in 2016 for the first time in eight years. With last year’s return, they began a new streak that Har-dinge hopes will continue in and beyond 2018.