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The top-ranked Raiders prove too much for the young and inexperienced Spartans.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Hillsboro's Divan Lule (8) handles the ball during the Spartans' game against Reynolds Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Hillsboro High School.
Three-to-nil, that was the score of the Hillsboro boys soccer game versus Reynolds Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Hillsboro High School. But despite the loss to the undefeated 6A Raiders, Spartans head coach Stuart Hoiem remains optimistic about what's to come for a young and relatively inexperienced Hillsboro team.

"I like the team right now," Hoiem said. "We only have four to five true returning varsity players, so a lot of younger and less experienced guys are getting a trial by fire. But after the Corvallis game I was told that our guys have a lot of heart, and that says a lot."

That youth and inexperience reared its head against No. 1-ranked Reynolds, as the Raiders used a tactical ploy to confuse the young Spartans, leading to what would ultimately be the game-winner by Reynolds midfielder Pedro Calderon early in the second half, after the young Sparts played the top-ranked Raiders to a 0-0 first half tie.

"I thought in the first half we played well and were able to get forward and create some good chances early," said Hoiem. "Then when the game settled in, they were able to find space out on the wings and we struggled with who to cover out there."

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Hillsboro's Mason Reyes heads a ball during the Spartans' game against Reynolds Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Hillsboro High School.After starting the year with a 2-0 win over the aforementioned Corvallis Spartans, earning a top-5 5A ranking and getting off to a 3-0-1 start after additional wins over West Albany and South Albany, while tying with Hood River Valley, Hilhi dropped a 4-0 game with Glencoe and tied Silverton before the loss to Reynolds Tuesday night. Hoiem however said that the goal differential in the two losses is a bit misleading due to his effort to work some younger kids into those games late. Also, he said it's that time of the year when academics are starting to take hold, and illness and injury are becoming a factor. Nonetheless, the coach is relatively happy with where they are and how they're playing all things considered.

"Our down times have mostly been a result of mental lapses where we kind of checkout of the game, and even against teams that aren't that good they can take advantage of you," Hoiem said. "But all in all, we're about where I expected us to be."

The Spartans have gotten solid contributions from returning players like center back Chance Saechao, along with junior forwards Fabian Reyna and Divan Lule. But while getting goals from as many as six different players, Hoiem says the team really suffers from the lack of a true and natural goal scorer.

"I like that were getting more goals from more guys, but it'd be nice to have that true scorer," he said.

Hillsboro now has a week to prepare for their league opener against La Salle, the 5A's top-ranked team. Hoiem knows how good the Falcons are and simultaneously seems to understand his own team's shortcomings, but at the same time the coach doesn't fear La Salle and even thinks his team is capable of giving them a game.

"We have a week before La Salle and it'll be a big focus of mine to get us mentally back up after that Reynolds game because La Salle isn't going to pull any punches," Hoiem said. "They're on a tear and looking tougher and tougher, but if we can keep it close, keep our heads in the game and keep our focus on doing our jobs tactically, I think we can play with them."

The Spartans' game against La Salle is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, at La Salle Prep.


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