By Jeremy McDonald
HILLSBORO, Ore.– When Diodone Kilongo struck in the 70th minute, it was acculmation of hard work that North Salem had put in throughout the second half.
Down 1-0 entering the second half to Hillsboro in their season ending 2-1 loss on the road, the Vikings set sail on the pressure with the same determination that had helped them to the 5A Quarterfinal round Saturday evening. Riding a four-game winning streak to the brink of the 2019 Semi-Final round.
“That was great, I was so excited. We played good, we’ll be prepared for next season,” said Kilongo. “Next season, we’re going to fight again hard. Our plan is to get to the Final. We have another chance next year.”
North Salem will be returning 13 athlete’s from this seasons squad for 2020 and entering Saturday’s match, the Vikings had already registered wins against 2018 State Champion Corvallis (3-2) on October 24.
The Spartans won’t be repeating as Champions this season, losing to La Salle Prep 3-1 Saturday as the Vikings went on the road Wednesday and defeated the fifth-ranked Eagle Point Eagles 2-1 in Southern Oregon.
For Jakob Jensen, who had battled all game to give his offense a crack at the tie and now the win, was blitzed by the Hillsboro Spartans down the stretch.
Shot missed with four minutes left. Jensen saved with 2:21 left. Another Hillsboro shot missed with 1:25 left.
North Salem had a crack or two down the stretch to possibly force a decision in regulation themselves. Same results as their Spartan counterparts as the game went under a minute to play in the game and Hillsboro gathered possession and prepared a counterattacked against the Viks defense.
North Salem Head Coach Salvador Maciel called Gaby Tena Palomares shot and score with 34 seconds one of those ‘once of a lifetime’ shots that landed passed Jensen. The goal that had ultimately ended the season of the Vikings short of their goal of the Title Game.
“It’s definitely a tough one to lose like that, especially when my young guys battled to the end and they know the feeling of working hard,” said Maciel. “Seeing it not go the way we wanted it to go, they battled until the end.
“They beat Corvallis at Corvallis and they work hard to get here. I got ten sophomores and one senior starting, this team is here and we’re here. We’re going to be a force to be reckoning with for the years to come and I’m proud of my boys that they came out and gave it their all.”
Entering the playoffs 6-6-2, the 14-seed, it was hard to think that they were 34 seconds from taking a Top-5 team to overtime let lone taking down the 4-seed as they did days before as a .500 team.
But as they enter 2020 with their vision on the big dance with this young nucleus. With playoff appearances in three of the last four years, the foundation is there for the Vikings to go after their dreams and goals of contending for a deep playoff run.
“We play so great, so next year I think we’ll be so well from this year because we love our coach. He teaches us good, I think next year we’ll make the Championship,” said Kilongo.