Brotherhood bond pushes Parkrose boys soccer into 5A state tournament
There might not be a quicker team in the state than Parkrose High School boys soccer.
The Broncos' speed helped them race to the top of the Northwest Oregon Conference standings, finishing the year in second place after a 5-3 loss to La Salle Prep on Oct. 25.
While the quickness wasn't quite enough against the Falcons, the senior-laden Broncos club is heading back to the postseason closer than ever.
"Coming into the season, we had a lot of people doubting us and we believed in ourselves," Broncos senior Jared Armenta said. "We came in here confident, we came in trusting ourselves and we came in here like a brotherhood. I think that's what helped us have a better season this year."
Last season, Parkrose finished 5-4-3 overall and snuck into the playoffs as the No. 15 seed before falling to No. 2 Willamette 6-2.
In 2022, the Broncos are 9-4-1 after a 6-2 mark in league and they'll be the No. 13 seed taking on Woodburn come Tuesday, Nov. 1.
Head coach Damian Califf agrees with Armenta's analysis of the team being close-knit, calling it one of the most talented teams he's had during his 21-year tenure in Northeast.
Califf recalls some text messages during the offseason hitting his phone at 2 a.m., to which Califf replied saying the season was still a couple months away.
These Broncos have been ready to run, especially the group of seniors that started for Califf when they were freshmen.
"About six or seven of them started for me as freshmen four years ago and took us to state then, surprised the heck out of us," Califf said. "They've been building ever since and they've been playing together. Just being able to know each other and play well together and the ball at our feet, I haven't seen a better team this year that can do what we can with the ball at our feet."
Armenta is one of the many parts of a Broncos squad that can turn the smallest turnover into a breakaway goal.
Mustafa Daggig is one who often finishes them from his forward position. With a great blend of size and speed, the senior makes for a tough matchup to guard for any opponent.
Mix in all the other seniors on this Parkrose team in Josh Ruiz, Alexander Dengub, Nsisong Ntekpere, Gerardo Jaimes, Alan Alvarado, Milkaya Adem, Kevin Hildago, Temesgen Berhe and Essey Shimbahri, and you get a seasoned squad ready to pull an upset in the playoffs.
"I feel like it's us getting closer together," Armenta said of the changes in 2022. "Last season there was a lot of arguing, but this year we became closer. It's like a brotherhood now and the coaches also help us out. And when we're not on the field together, we're off the field making memories and I feel like that's what helped us be more comfortable on the pitch."
That's been the philosophy the past 21 years for Califf at Parkrose. It's been about connecting on a deeper level than just the ball in play on the pitch.
"Over the years I try to have a close-knit family with all of the groups. Even my assistant coaches have played for me in the past," Califf said. "I'll go out in practice and want to say one or two things and then one of my coaches steps in and says it because it's exactly verbatim what I would say.
"It works out really well with the group of coaches we have and with the boys this year, it's been outstanding."
Califf talked about this group getting mentally prepared for the playoffs, a spot he believes they are ready for, especially after tasting defeat to La Salle Prep with the NWOC title on the line.
Knowing any game could be their last for this 2022 brotherhood, Armenta and crew are ready to leave it all on field.
"Just win," Armenta said of his team's mentality going into the playoffs. "Any game could be our last game. It's win or go home. We got to kill every game, we got to dominate every game and we gotta go into every game thinking it could be our last one so we can move on to the next."
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.