Former Timbers Academy players, now in Cardinal red, are two of many talented players suited up in Southwest Portland.

PMG PHOTO: AUSTIN WHITE - Lincoln boys soccer's Gunder Miller looks to advance upfield against Tigard on Sept. 13, 2022, at Tigard High School.

Like many teams, the players on the Lincoln High School boys soccer squad have played together for a long time.

Unlike many teams, the Cardinals have a unique duo in junior Gunder Miller and senior Zach Andoh, who both have experience within the Portland Timbers Academy.

Like many teams, Lincoln hopes to be holding the state championship trophy come November.

Unlike many teams, the Cardinals might just have the talent to pull it off.

That was evident in a 4-1 win over Tigard on Tuesday, Sept. 13, that saw the Cardinals dominate possession, get two goals from Miller and saw Andoh not give up a goal in net.

"They're not new to each other even though the two of them come in from the Academy," Lincoln first-year head coach Brandon McNeil said of the team as a whole. "I've watched them for a long time, but now it's fun to get to intimately work with them and see how tight-knit their personalities are."

The Cardinals claimed a No. 3 ranking in the latest OSAA 6A boys soccer coaches poll on Sept. 5. Plus, McNeil said he believes every single one of them could play college soccer if they wanted to.

Not to mention, Lincoln moved to 4-0 with the win over Tigard, a record that also includes a 1-0 win over Summit, last year's 6A state champion. Now in 5A, Summit has been one of the top boys programs in the state over the last few years.

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Winning that match, the second of the season at the time, was a huge confidence boost to the Cardinals.

"Probably our toughest game this season," Andoh said. "It was pretty close. We wanted to beat the unbeaten team, definitely our goal that game. Good to keep a clean sheet, too. Really good team performance in that game."

Andoh came from across the pond to be able to suit up for the Cardinals. His mother, who's from London, met his father, who's from Ghana, in the British city, and Andoh was born there. The family moved to the U.S. in 2012, so Andoh has been here most of his life.

The last five years of his life on the pitch have been at the Timbers Academy instead of in Cardinal red, an experience that has set him up well thanks to playing time against some of the country's best players in front of top coaches.

That's an experience Andoh shares with his whole Cardinals squad.

"It's helping the other boys, not just tactically but things they can do on the ball that make it easier," Andoh said. "Even though I'm a goalkeeper I can still help the field players a lot. It's been really good to carry that experience over here."

Miller, a junior, also came to Lincoln from the Timbers Academy, and it was apparent against Tigard with two goals. If it hadn't been for Tigers goalkeeper Olander Tangjaer making some incredible saves, it could have been quite a few more.

Miller and Andoh have known each other pretty much the whole time Andoh has been in the Oregon, forming a duo that's helped shape each player into who they are now.

"We've always been really close, always pushing each other, always joking around with each other," Andoh said. "But making sure we get the best out of each other every day in training."

Miller easily is one of the best players in his class and he's already been tearing it up for the Cardinals in four games. The forward has plenty of speed to chase down and finish long runs, with a strong leg to blast at the net, and moves to cross up any defender in his path.

PMG PHOTO: AUSTIN WHITE - Lincoln boys soccer's Kenneth Bae looks to advance upfield against Tigard on Sept. 13, 2022, at Tigard High School.

For coach McNeil, the talent is obviously great to see, but more importantly, he says Miller stays humble off the field.

"He's as good a person as he is a soccer player, and that for me makes a world of difference," McNeil said. "When you're a class act on and off the field, it's really easy to cheer for a kid like that. And he definitely has some talent. I've known Gunder since he was 10 years old, so I've watched his evolution go through and he reaps the benefit of having a really good team beyond him."

Those beyond Miller include fellow junior Kaito Thammavong and senior Henry Reuland, one of the Cardinals' team captains, who each scored in the match at Tigard.

Throw in some stellar midfield play from senior Kenneth Bae and some attacking from senior Luke Cordry, and Lincoln has the makings of a title contender

"You need every puzzle piece to finish the puzzle and I think we have all the pieces here," Miller said. "We have senior captains and they do everything, they inspire us. I'm following in their footsteps."

Andoh is off to the University of California next year to block shots for the Golden Bears, while Miller still has a year to figure it out.

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For those two and the whole Lincoln squad though, the focus is one game at a time in the quick high school season.

However, there's no denying what the end-goal is for this group that's come many miles together.

And while McNeil might get sick of "One Kiss" by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa playing on the bus rides home, he'll take it if it means his crew is winning.

Andoh had a way of spelling things out.

"State is the obvious one, but based on this team's results in the previous couple years, finishing preseason almost unbeaten or maybe losing one game, then league is where it drops," Andoh said. "We really want to keep it up. I think PIL is going to be the biggest part of our season if we can get some good results there. We can carry that momentum into the playoffs."

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