The 2018 Seaside boys soccer program is on a mission: The Gulls are out to get what they didn’t get last year.
Ranked No. 1 for much of the season, the Gulls lost in the Class 4A state quarterfinals a year ago, a 2-1 heartbreaker to Newport, which scored a late goal to escape Broadway Field on its way to a state championship.
Had they beaten Newport, the Gulls would have had the home field advantage in the semifinals.
Seaside lost a few seniors here and there, but for the most part, the Gulls are back and stronger than before.
Clatsop County has never produced a high school soccer state championship team. The 2018 Gulls — who were ranked No. 1 to end last season — are hoping to be the first.
It was no contest last year.
The Gulls and their 9-0-1 league record finished well ahead of second-place Valley Catholic (6-2-2), while Astoria (the team that managed a 2-2 tie against the Gulls) finished 5-3-2.
It may be even less of a contest this year. The Gulls have had problems in the past with Scappoose, but the Indians are no longer there, having moved to the 5A level.
“If we don’t win (the league title) clearly, I’ve got a problem,” Chapman said. “I think we’ll be fine.”
In fact, Chapman is more worried about the Oregon West Conference.
Woodburn drops down to 4A after winning the last two state titles at the 5A level, and five championships since 2010. Also in the Oregon West is defending 4A champion Newport, which features two-time all-state goalkeeper Luis Reyes.
“Any of the teams playing in that league with Woodburn, their league season is almost like a playoff tournament, with how good they are,” he said. “They will have challenging games week in and week out.
“And if we make it into the playoffs — which I anticipate we will — if we meet any of those teams, they’re going to be firing on all cylinders.”
Originally, the Gulls had Stayton and Woodburn on their preseason schedule. But the Oregon West ended up with seven schools, which added games to their league season. As a result, Woodburn and Stayton had to cancel their nonleague games with Seaside.
By contrast, teams in the Cowapa League may take a hit in the RPI rankings, with Scappoose no longer there.
The Fishermen, Valiants and Gulls were the only three teams that had winning records in the Cowapa League last year, and the only three to finish ranked in the top 20.
It all adds up to another league title this year for Seaside, which should have no problem in repeating as the Cowapa champions.
For the first time since 2014, the Cowapa League will have a Player of the Year other than Seaside’s Colton Carter, who was league MVP in 2015, ‘16 and ‘17.
The likely candidate would be Carter’s younger brother, Seaside sophomore Westin Carter, who was a first-team all-league defender last year.
However, “Westin is out injured at the moment,” Chapman said. “If he had been playing against Newport, I think we would have put that one away. But he strained his hip playing against Roosevelt in the summer, and will be out a couple weeks.”
Even with Carter not in the lineup, the Gulls should be strong on both ends of the field, and Chapman isn’t worried.
“We have a good team,” he said, following Seaside’s opener Tuesday against Newport. “Natanael Conrad (junior) had a great game. Samson Sibony (senior) had an unbelievable night in goal for his first game. He’s earning that spot. He’s got good field knowledge.
“And the defensive backs did a great job — didn’t let a shot get in,” he said. “With Parker Conrad (senior) on the back line, Irving Contreras (senior), Chase Januik (senior) and Bryce DeWinter (senior), we’re strong there.
“Josue Sanchez has stepped up as a junior, Natanael has stepped in to take one of those spots on the back line, and Luke Verley, an incoming freshman, has taken over for Henry (Chapman). He’s not as quick, but definitely has some talent on the ball. Stephan Snyder (sophomore) is another who has stepped up.
“We’re pretty loaded up front, for a change,” Chapman said. “We just have to learn to finish now.”
A large turnout should ensure further winning in the years to come.
“We’re just under 40 players,” Chapman said. “We have a very solid underclassmen and JV team, with a lot of freshmen and sophomores.”
Prediction: A league championship is pretty much a given. Seaside is hoping to challenge Woodburn for a 4A state title.
“They’ve been in the (5A) final seven of the last 10 years,” Chapman said. “They lost two guys last year, so they’ll be big-time favorites. We’ll see. We’ll take ‘em on. We’re ready for it.”
SEASIDE BOYS SOCCER
Coach: John Chapman, 6th year
2017: 13-2-1 (9-0-1 league)
Playoffs: Defeated Philomath (1-0) in first round, lost to Newport (1-2) in state quarterfinals.
All-league losses: Colton Carter (MVP), Ashton Boyd, Henry Chapman, Rafi Sibony.
All-league returners: Westin Carter, So., Parker Conrad, Sr., Chase Januik, Sr., Irving Contreras, Sr.