The Pioneers get a hat trick from Ryan Escareno and advance to the playoffs with 4-0 win.

SANDY POST: MATT RAWLINGS - Sandy's Ryan Escareno (left) makes a play on the ball.

5A Boys Soccer

Team Score
The Dalles

SANDY — Sandy has picked a good time to start playing their best soccer of the season.

Forward Ryan Escareno netted three goals in the first half as the Pioneers (10-4) advanced to the playoffs with a 4-0 win over The Dalles in a play-in contest on Saturday afternoon.

"We have had guys that have continued to believe in this team, even when things weren't going well. And now, it's starting to pay off," Sandy head coach Garet Luebbert said. "A big part of our success today was having guys come out with an aggressive mentality."

After winning their first seven games of the season, Sandy went through a stretch where they lost four of their next five contests, only scoring one goal during that time-span. The Pioneers also suffered key injuries to Julian Carpenter and Henry Ruiz in the first game of that losing streak. Now that Sandy is healthy, their offense looks to be back on track heading into the postseason.

The Pioneers attack was relentless to begin the game, getting three shots-on-goal in the first six minutes.

"Having confidence in our teammates has been a real important key for us," Sandy forward Allan Lainez said. Our forwards were pressing really high and that didn't give the defense any time to think."

In the eighth minute, Lainez pushed the ball forward to Escareno, who gave a juke to his right and then crossed the ball back left and into the net, giving Sandy the early lead.

Look for extended coverage in the Nov. 1 print edition.

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