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But the Kingsmen have high expectations, as they reload

If his Kingsmen can figure out how to put the ball in the net, Putnam coach Mitch Wing believes that Putnam will have another successful season in boys soccer this fall.JOHN DENNY - (Left to right) Adrian Bravo, Farit Farias and Edgar Sanchez have high expectations for Rex Putnam soccer this fall, as the Kingsmen reload.

“We could finish anywhere from league champion to sixth [in the Northwest Oregon Conference],” Wing said. “If we’re going to be successful, we’re going to have to score goals. We only scored two goals in our first four games. We’re stopping people, but we’re not scoring. Our defense looks solid, hopefully the goals will come. We’re getting shots, but we’re just not putting them in.”

Putnam graduated 13 seniors off of last year’s team, but Putnam’s program has reached a point where the Kingsmen still expect to be successful. In 2013 they reached the quarterfinals with a team that had graduated 16 seniors the previous year. In 2011 and 2012 they were NWOC champions; last fall they exited the Class 5A state playoffs in the first round, after going 4-3-1 (9-5-2 overall) and placing fifth in the nine-team NWOC. Putnam’s jayvee team last year went 6-1-1 in league, losing to Liberty and tying Milwaukie.

“We’ve got great team chemistry,” said Putnam team co-captain Edgar Sanchez. “I honestly believe we can go further than last year.”

“Defensively we’re really strong, with Edgar’s leadership at sweeper,” said Putnam senior co-captain Adrian Brave. “And Farit (junior Farit Farias] is a great goal keeper.”

“Once we get our build-up down, I’m sure our great variety of shooters and forwards won’t disappoint us,” said Sanchez. “They’ll score plenty of goals.”

There are 14 seniors on this year’s team, and eight players on the team either saw starting action or a considerable amount of playing time on varsity last fall.

“We don’t have the experience we had last year, when we had all those seniors with two or three years of experience,” Wing said. “But we’re really solid on defense, and I believe the offense will come.”

The Kingsmen are off to a 1-2-2 start in preseason, but they’ve played a tough schedule. They battled 2014 state finalist Woodburn to a scoreless tie in their season opener; they lost to 2014 Class 5A state champion Hood River 3-0 and to Class 6A Tualatin 1-0. They have a 2-1 win over Silverton; and last Saturday they traveled to Hermiston and tied the Bulldogs 1-1. Hood River, Hermiston, Woodburn and Silverton were ranked first, fourth, ninth, and 18th in the state respectively through play last weekend.

Wing is high on junior goalkeeper Farit Farias as well as on his defensive unit.

Farias was a goalie and field player on Putnam’s jayvee team last fall.

“He’s a great keeper,” Wing said of Farias. “He’s a big kid, he’s got great feet and great hands, and he blocks nearly everything. He was absolutely phenomenal in the Woodburn game, with 10 to 12 saves. He’s worked really hard to improve his goalkeeping over the summer, and it shows. Our defense is playing well, but Farit is also doing a great job for us in-goal.”

Experienced players returning from last year’s Kingsmen varsity include: senior defenders Devin McGill and Edgar Sanchez; junior defender Joseph Morale; senior midfielders Tommy Ciobanasiu, Victor Loza and John Wilson; junior forward/midfielder Kevin Zamora-Reser; and sophomore midfielder/forward John Meighan.

Ciobanasiu, who has been doubling as a kicker for Putnam’s football team, is the only returning Putnam player who received recognition in last year’s NWOC boys soccer all-star balloting.

Loza and Meighan scored Putnam’s goals in this fall’s 2-1 win over Silverton, a game that the Kingsmen dominated; Meighan scored the equalizer Saturday at Hermiston.

Moving up from last year’s jayvee to this year’s varsity are: seniors Cameron Cottis (forward), Garrett Benedict (midfield/defense), Brendan Barnes (midfield), Chris Taylor (midfield), Adrian Bravo (forward), Tanner Ujifusa (forward), Gerardo Herrera-Alfaro (defense) and Stephen Brusse (goalkeeper); and sophomores Drew Urben (forward/defense) and Trygve Nordby (defense).

Junior Emilio Rogers, a club players who did not play last year, has been starting in the midfield; senior Jeff Johnson, who did not play last year, will see action in the forward line.

Sanchez said he see’s Wilsonville as perhaps the Kingsmen’s toughest opponent in the NWOC.

“Wilsonville has two of the best players in the state and last year we lost to them in a one-sided game,” he said. “I’m looking forward to playing them on our field this year. I think we have just as good a chance of winning the league title as they do. It should be a great game.”

Sanchez added, “I’m very proud of my team. We have a lot of potential. We see ourselves as league title contenders. We play in the toughest league in the state, but we’re ready to show the rest of the state that we are ready to win league and make a run at the state title.”

Putnam begins NWOC league competition on Tuesday, Sept. 29, hosting La Salle.

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