The highlight of 2017 was a 2-2 tie against the No. 1-ranked team in the state.
The Astoria boys soccer team went on to finish 9-5-2 overall, a respectable record coming off a 5-8 season the year before. The Fishermen even managed to advance to the Sweet 16, where they fell in a first-round game at Stayton.
It’s time to reload for the Astoria boys and head coach Lee Cain. Time to come up with another all-league goalkeeper, which would be Astoria’s third Goalkeeper of the Year in three years.
But Cain is also realistic, and he knows a rebuilding project when he sees it.
“We lost seven seniors, so it’s a ‘start over’ year, and a rebuild,” Cain said. “The losses were pretty well distributed, so our focus is on building a program, and building the skills of the players we have.”
Astoria was responsible for Seaside’s only non-win in league play last year, a 2-2 tie Sept. 23 at Seaside.
Speaking of Seaside, the entire 4A level may be chasing after the Gulls this season. Woodburn may be the favorite on paper, but Seaside claims it will be even better than last year’s team, which was ranked No. 1 for much of the season.
“I don’t know what Valley Catholic has, but I think our strongest challenge is going to come from Seaside,” Cain said. “They look real strong, with a lot of physicality.”
The Fishermen have five challenging nonleague games this season, before opening league play Sept. 20 (where else?), at Seaside.
With only five league teams (Scappoose has moved to the 5A level), it will just be an eight-game league season for Cowapa League teams.
Among Astoria’s losses is Jake Hurd, the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year in 2017. Hurd replaced Kyle Birge, the Cowapa’s 2016 Goalkeeper of the Year.
There’s actually a long list of players from the North Coast who have earned the award — it’s only natural to assume the Fishermen will come up with another all-league keeper to replace Hurd.
“We’re going to give Tony Tumbarello a shot at the varsity spot, and he’s showing a lot of promise,” Cain said. “He’s young, only a sophomore, but he’s very athletic.
“We lost Spark (Owen), probably for most of the season,” he said. “He broke his heel bone, a brutal injury. That’s why Tony is jumping in there, and we’ll be training a brand-new keeper at the JV level. We do have some good backup keepers, but we need them on the field.”
Despite losing Jose Gonzalez, a first-team all-league player, Cain said “our defense should still be strong. Three of our defenders are back. We lost Jose, and that’s a huge hole to fill because he had tremendous energy.
“And not having (Cole) Beeson in the midfield will be a new experience,” he said of Astoria’s mid, who accounted for a large part of the team’s scoring production over the last four years. “We have to figure out how to play without him. He was very significant. But there’s a lot of skill coming up, and I’m looking at these guys to mature, hoping for this to be a good year.”
Astoria’s senior class includes Aldo Cruz, Jonathan Jimenez, Christian Medina-Perez, Rodrigo Palacio Rojas and all-league returner Porter Whitsett.
A large junior class features David Bermudez, Dalton Byrd, Riley Cameron, Brooks Fromwiller, Leo Matthews, Michael Postlewait, Evan Randall and Shrey Sharma.
ASTORIA BOYS SOCCER
Coach: Lee Cain, 3rd year
2017: 9-5-2 (5-3-2 league)
Playoffs: Defeated Gladstone (1-0) in play-in, lost at Stayton (0-4) in first round.
All-league losses: Cole Beeson, Trevor Byrd, Jose Gonzalez, Jake Hurd.
All-league returners: Aldo Cruz, Sr., Porter Whitsett, Sr.