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Players for both teams celebrate the chance to play after so much uncertainty.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Sunset's Oscar Villasenor (left) and Clackamas' Peter Sanchez battle for possession of the ball during the Cavaliers' 3-0 win at Sunset High School on Tuesday, March 2.Finally.

After more than a year away from the sport they love best, the boys soccer teams from Clackamas and Sunset high schools finally got back on the field on Tuesday, March 2, with the Cavaliers posting a 3-0 non-league win at Sunset High School.

For senior-laden Clackamas — a team that won the Mt. Hood Conference a year ago and advanced to the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs — just getting the chance to play meant everything.

"It's pretty exciting," said senior Brady Fendrich, who scored his team's second goal late in the game. "It was a long way to go to play later in the season ... but you know, it was exciting to get back on the pitch with the Clackamas boys."

"We're all blessed … to have the opportunity to play," said senior Cameron Gaines, who scored twice in the contest, including the game-winner just 2 minutes, 31 seconds into the second half. "With so many seniors, it'd be such a shame (not to play this year). I'm really glad we got the opportunity."

With the win, the Cavaliers lifted their 2021 season record to 1-0, while the Apollos — who also reached the second round of the playoffs last year — fell to 0-1 overall.

Clackamas 3, Sunset 0

Despite that, Sunset's players were just glad for the opportunity to compete after their season hung in the balance for so long.

"It feels great to get back on the field — no one was really expecting it to be able to happen," said senior goalkeeper Colin Kennedy. "I'm excited for the season."

"There's nothing like playing for your high school," added senior forward Pierce Walker. "You feel like you're playing for something big and it's just so much fun."

The Cavaliers started fast on Tuesday, pressuring the Apollos hard for the game's first 11 minutes, then getting three corner kicks and a shot on goal by senior Cooper Sheakley.

But they failed to score.

The Apollos, knocked back on their heels early, found their game legs soon thereafter, however. They took over for the following 12 minutes, getting a pair of their own corner kicks in seven minutes and shots on goal from senior Luke Wheeler and junior Aaron Lopez.

Then, with 17 minutes left in the opening half, Sunset got its best scoring chance of the game, with Walker attacking the goal after the Cavaliers failed to clear the ball. His shot was deflected by Clackamas senior keeper Liam Russinger, but Lopez collected the rebound and followed with a shot of his own that was stopped by a leaping Russinger.

"We started off a little shaky, but I feel like we just really got the rhythm and started working together as a team," Kennedy said. "There were a couple of chances that we should have got goals there."

Perhaps because of Sunset's solid play in the first half, the Cavaliers came out strong in the second period, with Gaines connecting for the game-winning score with 37:29 left on the clock.

"My centerback … Andres Huizar sent a through ball from back on his own 25 and it just kind of arced my run toward the goal," Gaines said. "And luckily enough, it went in the back of the net."

While Clackamas wouldn't score again for more than 32 minutes, the Cavaliers finished with a flourish. Fendrich provided his team's second goal when Sheakley set him up in the Sunset penalty box and he beat Kennedy in a one-on-one opportunity with 4:56 left to play.

The Cavaliers added their third goal with 2:18 left on the clock when Sunset was whistled for a handball in the penalty box and Gaines converted the ensuing penalty kick for the final 3-0 margin.

"As the game moved on, I think the team really showed a mature gamesmanship," Gaines said. "We decided to focus more on possession in second half and I think that really benefited us in the end."

"The second half, we came out strong and kind of just had this mentality of give it all you got," Fendrich added. "That's kind of what matters. At the end of the day, that's what's gonna win you games."

For their part, the Apollos were satisfied with their effort, but determined to get better.

"We've been a team for four days, so we're still getting the hang of it," Kennedy said. "After the first 15 minutes, we started working together better. Everyone started like working as a unit, pushing hard, and it really showed up."

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