Putnam, La Salle coaches are honored by their peers as Coaches of the Year

Two local coaches and three local athletes have received top recognition in the Oregon high school girls soccer coaches’ all-star JOHN DENNY - Alex Ponce

The state’s coaches have honored Putnam first-year coach Alex Ponce and La Salle Prep coach Ryan Cereghino as Class 5A Girls Soccer Coach of the Year and Class 4A Girls Soccer Co-Coach of the Year respectively.

They’ve named Putnam senior goalkeeper Bella Geist to the Class 5A girls soccer first-team of all-stars and they’ve named La Salle senior defender Joslynn Bigelow and Gladstone senior midfielder Kelsey Hathaway to the Class 4A girls soccer first team of all-stars.

by: SUBMITTED - Ryan CereghinoPonce’s and Cereghino’s honors were unusual, because “Coach of the Year” honors usually go to the coaches of teams that win state.

Putnam (7-5-4, 5-1-1) this year tied for second place in the Northwest Oregon Conference and advanced to the Class 5A quarterfinals, despite graduating 11 seniors from last season and battling injuries through much of the 2013 season.

La Salle (13-4-0, 9-1-0) lost to eventual state champion Scappoose in the semifinals, after splitting with two-time defending state champion Gladstone in league and claiming its first league title since 2008.

This was the first year as a high school head coach for Ponce, who assisted Medhat Mohamed, aka “MeMo,” for three seasons at Putnam before becoming head coach.

This was the third straight year that Putnam had advanced as far as the state quarterfinals, and it was the Kingsmen’s highest finish in league since 2010, when MeMo became head coach.

Although he is relatively new to coaching, Ponce excelled in soccer as an athlete at Hood River High School, garnering Oregon big-school “Player of the Year” honors his senior year (2004), when he led the Eagles to the semifinals, for their best season in school history. He was NWAACC Southwest Division “Player of the Year” at Clark College; and he was an NAIA All-American and Cascade Collegiate Conference “Player of the Year” in 2007, when he led Concordia to the regional finals.

“To have won it as a player and now as a coach, within a 10-year time span, it’s a really great feeling,” said Ponce. “I would trade it for a couple of state championships any day, but I’m glad I got to share it with the girls on the team. It’s been a really great experience and I’ve got a great group of girls who picked up on my coaching style really quickly. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have received the honor.”

Cereghino, who graduated from La Salle in 2001, was La Salle boys soccer junior varsity coach in 2006 and 2007 and varsity assistant coach in the Falcon boys’ program in 2008. A math teacher at La Salle, he took over as head coach in girls soccer in 2009.

During Cereghino’s five seasons as head girls coach, the Falcons placed third in the then seven-team Capital Conference and made the first round of the Class 4A/3A/2A/1A state playoffs in 2009; placed third in the six-team Tri-Valley Conference and made the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs in 2010; tied for second in the TVC and made the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs in 2011; placed third in the TVC and made the Class 4A quarterfinals in 2012; and this fall Cereghino’s Falcons won the TVC and advanced to the Class 4A semifinals for the first time since 2007.

Cereghino’s Falcons finished with an overall record of 13-4-0 this fall, outscoring opponents 47-13. Over five seasons, Cereghino’s La Salle Prep girls teams have compiled a combined win-loss record of 50-28-5.

“It’s very humbling [receiving the Coach of the Year honor],” said Cereghino. “It means a lot to me. It’s nice that other coaches have noticed what we’re doing with our program and are honoring us. But like I tell the girls, when a player gets an honor, it’s not because of what that one player has done by herself, but what she has done with the help of all the players around her. It’s the same with me. I’ve got an excellent coaching staff. We work well to together. Each of them brings something special to the table and they have all contributed to the success of our program. Varsity assistants Anne Braghero and Lauren Strand and jayvee coach Alle MacLeod, they’ve all played a role in making good things happen at La Salle.”

La Salle Prep junior Kate Christoferson was named to this year’s Class 4A girls second all-state team, and La Salle Prep senior Kevin Luyamba was honored as a first-team selection in the Class 4A boys all-state balloting.

In volleyball, Clackamas senior Taylor Agost got the nod to the Class 6A first team.

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