Estacada soccer program has a historic season
Estacada High School boys and girls teams both make a postseason appearance, which is the first time in the school's history.
It has been more than 10 years since the boys made it to the postseason, whereas this is the first time an Estacada girls team has never made it to the postseason play. Although neither was able to push past an early postseason exit, both teams had incredible success during the season.
People familiar with Estacada girls soccer know that the team has been playing for fifth place in the division for quite some time. However, when the 2021 season came, girls varsity coach Robert Franks actually saw a potential push to postseason appearance.
"It really didn't sit well that we couldn't do better," said Franks.
Franks started being the girls varsity head coach three years ago and under his leadership the team had been steadily moving up the ranks.
When the season started Franks saw how aggressive his team was playing.
"We played against some really good teams and were really competitive," said Franks. "We wouldn't win those games, but the girls were giving it their all and we weren't losing by the margins we used too."
Frank's message for the season was incremental improvements, which the team took to heart. When the team made it through all of their league games Franks told the team to improve in their next meetings. Some of those improvements were to not allow as many goals against good teams like Gladstone and North Marion and to beat teams that they tied with earlier in the season like Molalla and Corbett.
"That game against Molalla was huge," said Franks. "The girls just felt confident that they could get a win. I have never seen a team of ours beat Molalla and if we did it was before 2013."
When the Rangers started to make some of those improvements, the girls on the team started to see their path to postseason play.
"When I saw the breakdown of how playoff contention was going to be decided I started to think that we could actually make it," said Franks. "I didn't want to tell the girls though, I didn't want to put that pressure on the girls."
However, the team took notice, took action and made making it to the playoffs a goal of theirs.
Then, it came to a play-and-in game against Seaside. Franks said that the girls had confidence about themselves.
"They were seeded above us and had everything to prove, especially having it being played in their home," said Franks.
The game proved treacherous with rain pouring in the coastal town and even causing the lights to go out. The Rangers were able to find the back of the net in the last minutes of overtime, ensuring the team's first ever playoff appearance.
For the Estacada boys soccer team the 2021 season was something of a revenge tour. Last year, the team missed the playoffs despite being second in their league.
"It was hard, finishing second and yet still missing the playoffs," said varsity head coach Jack Carol.
With their playoff window seemingly lost and a mass exodus of senior players, Carol expected the 2021 season to be a rebuild year. However, the young but athletic group that made their way into varsity showed signs that the team might have a chance to do some damage.
To add to the sneaky athleticism of the team was Spanish exchange student Santiago Herrera, whose masterful footwork would help the young Rangers team stay competitive.
"(Herra) is one of our best players for sure," said Carol. "He would do things with the ball that other guys wouldn't even think of."
The team was piecing together an amazing season, only losing twice to North Marion. Towards the later half of the season the teams focus was getting a home play-and-in game, which the team was able to secure. Although they weren't able to play on their home field due to the state of the field after a heavy rain, Ranger fans traveled to Oregon City to see the boys defeat Newport/Eddyville Charter.
With their win over Newport/Eddyville, the Estacada team would make their return to postseason play for the first time in ten years.
"There was excitement in the air for sure," said Carol. "Our goal-keeper coach was a player for Estacada the last time they made it, so that was fantastic. But for the boys, just being recognized for their hard work really meant a lot."
Unfortunately the Rangers were not able to keep up with the play of Pilomath and lost 0-5.
Although both teams were not able to go far into the playoffs, both Carol and Franks hope that the programs historic success this year will instill a new sense of pride for Estacada soccer.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.