Pacific Conference all-star team includes 11 players from Hillsboro-area schools

For a season that almost did not happen, this fall turned into a pretty good one for Abran Serrano Garcia.

The Hillsboro boys soccer senior forward played a key role in his team’s success this season, including a third-place result in the Pacific Conference and a second-round state playoff appearance. For his efforts, he was recently voted league co-most valuable player by the conference’s coaches to lead a list of 11 Hillsboro-area players named to this year’s all-star HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Hillsboro's Abran Serrano Garcia (15) battles Century's Christian Acosta for a loose ball this fall. Serrano Garcia was recently named the Pacific Conference player of the year.

“I was actually really excited and I was kind of surprised,” Serrano Garcia said. “I didn’t expect myself to actually get it.”

Serrano Garcia shared the award with McMinnville midfielder/forward Moises Diaz, whom he has also played against in club soccer. Grizzlies coach Jory Shene was named league coach of the year.

Despite missing the better part of two games after reaggravating an injury to his right ankle against Century, Serrano Garcia still posted season totals of 11 goals and seven assists.

“Even when he’s not scoring or making assists, he’s dictating the pace of a lot of the games,” said Hilhi coach Tim Ellsworth. “A lot of the game went through him for us.”

That right ankle, in fact, almost stopped Serrano Garcia from turning out for soccer this year. He initially injured it during the summer and contemplated not returning to the Spartans for his senior season so that he could focus on returning to form.

Ultimately, though, he changed his mind, helping steer Hilhi (10-5-1) to its eighth consecutive postseason berth as well as its third consecutive appearance in the second round of the 6A playoffs.

“I didn’t want to let Tim down and let the team down, especially in his last year, so that’s why I wanted to play,” Serrano Garcia said. “It was an emotional last game, knowing it was his last game and it was our last game. I wanted us to go farther and I didn’t think we deserved to get just second round.”

Glencoe coach Tom Stephens was one of those who voted for Serrano Garcia for MVP.

“I don’t know if he scored two goals or 20 goals,” Stephens said. “All I know is that every time he was on the field, he was dangerous, constantly dangerous.

“When he’s on the ball, he is one of the best players on the field. In any game that he’s playing, he’s probably the best player on the field.”

Serrano Garcia, who plays for the Westside Timbers in club ball, has his sights set on continuing to play in college, possibly in California and starting out at a junior college.

Fellow Spartan Aaron Barber-Axhelm joined Serrano Garcia on the all-conference first team. With the exception of goalkeeper, the versatile senior played everywhere on the field this season for Hilhi. He recorded three goals and three assists.

“I think just his work rate stands out to people, and they recognize him and know what he does on the field from a defensive to an offensive standpoint,” Ellsworth said of his four-year varsity player.

Tyler Hoiem was named to the second team. Though he plays forward, the senior was a true team player, stepping in at goalkeeper for spells during the playoffs after injuries to Hilhi starting keeper Phoenix Baltrus and backup Rodolfo Lopez Perez. Hoiem contributed seven goals and eight assists this fall.

Junior forward/midfielder Diego Canastuj-Lopez received honorable mention selection after notching four goals and six assists.

Led by first team picks Carlos Hernandez-Morfin and Quinn Marshall, Century placed five players on the all-league team. The Jaguars posted perhaps the finest season in school history this fall, going 9-3-4 overall and making their deepest playoff run ever, all the way to the state quarterfinals.

Century coach Steve Corey said that Hernandez-Morfin, a junior midfielder, even stepped into a center back position while Marshall was out for a couple of weeks with a concussion.

“He’s very versatile,” Corey noted. “He can almost go anywhere on the field.”

Marshall, who has given a verbal commitment to Gonzaga, was not only a shot-stopper at goalkeeper for the Jaguars, but Corey also described him as the team’s leader.

“That’s going to be the biggest loss, because he brings another level to leadership that I don’t even see any players bringing next year,” he said.

Three other Jaguars were named to the second team: junior forward Omar Alcazar Polvos, senior midfielder Gilberto Arreola Lopez and senior center back Oscar Guzman.

Two Glencoe players were recognized this fall by the league’s coaches. Senior midfielder/striker Ariel Cruz Ramirez led the Crimson Tide (2-11-2) with eight goals and five assists. He was named to the second team.

“He’s a guy that people are aware of, where he’s at,” Glencoe coach Tom Stephens said. “They need to be aware of where he is. He plays at a very aggressive level and kind of makes his presence known on the field.”

Another Tide senior, Erik Lopez, earned honorable mention honors for his lockdown defending at right back. Opponents only scored about three goals, Stephens said, through Lopez’ side of the field all season.

“He just was a really, really, really quiet defender, and quiet in the sense of he just did his job, and he stopped anybody that came at him,” Stephens said.

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