St. Helens no match for Putnam in NWOC boys' soccer opener
St. Helens High School's boys' soccer team has taken its share of lumps this season.
And the season before that, and the season before that.
Tuesday night was more of the same.
Putnam's Johnny Lavadores scored three goals and nine other players scored one goal each, leading the Kingsmen to a 12-1 rout over the Lions in Tuesday's Northwest Oregon Conference opener for both teams at Putnam's Bill Foelker Field in Milwaukie.
The Kingsmen (3-4-1, 1-0 NWOC) opened a 4-1 lead in the first half and then got two goals from Lavadores and one from Diego Martinez in the first eight minutes of the second half to turn the game into a blowout.
Perhaps the only silver lining for St. Helens was Ethan Ward's goal in the eighth minute that tied the score 1-1.
Aside for that, the game was agonizingly bleak for the Lions (0-8, 0-1), who saw their winless streak reach 35 games (0-34-1) over three seasons.
"It's been tough," Lions coach Bob Opperman said. "We just can't stop the goals. We get some good drives forward and we just don't finish as well as we need to.
"We had four or five opportunities where our guys should have got a better touch to the goal, but then we'd just turn around and let them come back at us."
The score could have been more lopsided than it was. Putnam had a couple of goals and several other five-star scoring chances wiped out by offside violations, and then Kingsmen coach Mitch Wing did what he could to try and reign in his players after Steve Sanchez's goal made it 8-1 with just under 20 minutes to play.
"We gain nothing from a game like this," Wing said. "You have fun because the kids love to score, but … we did this to them last year, too, and it's just frustrating.
"You tell the kids, 'Don't put the ball in the back on of the net,' and everyone could see how efficient that was."
In eight games, the Lions have been outscored 60-8 and are currently ranked No. 32 in the OSAA power rankings among the 32 boys' soccer teams competing in Class 5A.
"We work with the guys on moving the ball like we watched the Kingsmen move the ball tonight," Opperman said. "They always ask, 'Why don't we do that?' Well, we work on it, but they don't do it. But each time they see this, they try a little bit harder and get a little bit better at moving the ball rather than just kicking it long.
"They'll build and probably be good by the end of the year … when it's too late. But these are great guys, they're having a lot of fun still, and it's just where we are at this stage right now."
Trailing 3-1, St. Helens' Kaleb Edwards set up Cameron Sexton for a shot that forced Putnam keeper Daniel Wilson to make a diving save in the 29th minute.
If that one finds the net, maybe the game would have gone in a different direction.
Instead, Putnam's Cameron Busic curved a left-footed shot from the right wing over the outstretched hands of St. Helens' keeper Gordon Gortler and under the crossbar in the 31 st minute to make it 4-1 and everything went downhill for the Lions after that.
"We played well early," Lions' senior defender Regan Tolman said. "We were connecting passes and keeping cool heads, even though we were down.
"This is kind of funny and sad, but we haven't won since my freshman year, so it's easy for us to keep our morale up and keep having fun. And I'm always having fun, because my best friends are here."
With six games remaining, is there at least one that has the Lions' name on it?
"Hopefully, we get a win," Tolman said. "There's always a chance and we'll always try to go for it. We won't give up."