The Astoria boys soccer team was 3-1 through four games last year. By midseason, they were 3-4, and the Fishermen never did regain their winning edge, as they finished 5-8 overall in Lee Cain’s first year as head coach.
And following the graduation of their all-star goalkeeper, Cain and the Fishermen are facing a tough challenge as they enter the 2017 season.
The league will take care of itself, Cain said. He’s just focused on his team.
“I really don’t know much about the league,” he said. “I haven’t cared, because I want to focus this summer on my boys and how we’re playing.”
Tillamook is the defending league champion, with Seaside looking to regain the title this year. Banks is also back with a varsity team, as the Cowapa returns to a full six-team league.
Astoria lost some big-time scorers (Rafael Alcantar, and brothers Jorge and Luis Herrejon), and their big-time goalie (Kyle Birge, the Cowapa’s Goalkeeper of the Year). So a rebuilding job is definitely in order for Cain and the Fish.
They’re off to a good start.
“We’ve got a pretty solid team,” Cain said, one week into practice. “Nine, possibly 10 seniors and six juniors, so it’s a fairly mature team, and they’re all playing well together.”
Astoria had a turnout of 40-plus players, and Cain will keep 17 to 20 on the varsity.
“We will have a real solid JV squad that I want to keep together,” he said. “A couple years down the road we’re going to have a real solid team.”
For now, the Fishermen will replace Birge with senior Jake Hurd in goal.
“That’s a tough spot to fill,” said the coach. “Jake Hurd is going to be our starting keeper. He’s been working hard and looks good. He played JV and part-time varsity last year; it’s a big spot to fill, but I’m happy with what I’m seeing in Jake.”
Elsewhere, Cain said, “Cole Beeson (Sr.) is back, Antonio Bermudez (Sr.), David Bermudez (So.), Trev Byrd (Sr.), Aldo Cruz (Jr.) … Jose Gonzalez (Sr.) is really solid, strong and can play anywhere; Jonathan Jimenez, Christian Medina-Perez and Rodrigo Palacio-Rojas (all juniors) will be the varsity back line.”
Also playing big roles will be returners Gustavo Velazquez (Sr.) in the midfield and Porter Whitsett (Jr.).
Serving as backup keepers to Hurd, the Fishermen have several incoming freshmen, as well as junior Taylor Palmberg.
Also on the preseason roster: senior Tyler Gagnon, junior Ivan DeLaCruz, sophomore Michael Postlewait and freshman Josh Condit.
ASTORIA BOYS SOCCER
Coach: Lee Cain, 2nd year
2016: 5-8 (2-6 Cowapa)
All-League losses: Kyle Birge (GK of the Year); Rafael Alcantar, Jorge Herrejon, Luis Herrejon
All-League returners: Cody Early, Sr.; Jose Gonzalez, Sr.