By Jeremy McDonald
DAYTON, Ore.– It was totally different from their first meeting down the road at Western Christian. They traded the mudpit for turf and a slow-moving ball to fast moving at Dayton High School.
But the result was still the same. The Pioneers of Western Christian defeating the Pirates of Dayton High School 3-0 with a higher-reward:
3A/2A/1A Special District 2 District Title. The first for the Pios since 2006, continuing their historic season right into the postseason bracket this upcoming week.
“This is the first-one in 15 years and even then, it was against all 2A teams and this is the first time we’ve won a league championship, even as Western Christian. So it feels really good, I’ve never won one before, this is awesome,” Landon Moore said, who won Conference Player of the Year.
It wasn’t until Moore’s 38th minute goal that Western Christian struck gold and got on the board. Both squads had their runs and rallies in the scrappy game, but as Moore was swarmed by his teammates after his goal, a collective sigh of relief overcame the Pioneers entering the second half.
They looked calm and collected. Declan Wark, 48 hours after his third-place finish in the 2A/1A District Race, made it 2-0 Western in the 46th. Jacky Choi made it 3-0 six minutes later.
“It was very difficult, they’re a very good team. We came with a mentality that it was going to be a tough game and they gave us the game we were expecting. They beat us,” said the Pirates Daniel Anguiano, a first-team selection in the conference. “We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. Playing to the feet, trying to build up to the goal.”
Dayton settled back down following Choi’s 52nd minute goal, but despite having the speed with Benji Hudson and Tyler Spink moving up from the midfield as a second option, the Pirates couldn’t reel Western Christian back in for an attempt for the Title in the final 28 minutes of the game. Sealing the Pios first District Title in a long, long time.
But for now, it’s onto the bracket as Dayton travels to Pleasant Hill to play Cascade Christian while the Pioneers host East Linn Christian at Santiam Christian. For Western Christian, a win would put them in the finals with Umpqua Valley Christian and Delphian opting out on the other side of the bracket, but they still need to come out and perform.
“We just need to stay motivated and realize that the job is not done and we need to finish off strong and win that State Championship,” Choi said.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald