By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– 2017 Western Christian-grad Seth Williams knew that the team he was inheriting was special. But damn, he was surprised by season’s end when they finished 13-0 and won the 3A/2A/1A Cumulative Week Playoff Championship Game.
Known as a boys basketball power, the boys soccer success was just one of three by the Pioneers this past school year with its Cross Country and Baseball successes. Both Cross Country and Baseball finished third and fourth respectively.
“I don’t even think I can put it into words. It was really unbelievable. I knew we had a really good team, but I didn’t know that good,” chuckle Williams.
“It was my first year playing soccer for Western, it was just a lot of fun,” Declan Wark adds. “We lost like eight seniors, so we’re going to try to fill the gaps.”
Wark pulled double-duty for Western Christian over the six-week season, doing cross country while also helping the Pios on the pitch. He’ll be one of the returners for Western Christian knowing they’ll need to fill the gaps left by 11 graduating seniors from last year.
Andrew O’Dell, Jermiah Buck and Owen Stalknaker are expected to step up with Wark this Fall with the Pios bringing in roughly 18 kids to the team this year. Some come from Amity as the Pioneers will co-op with the 3A Warriors this soccer season as Western Christian hopes to continue their playoff run into the Fall. The Pioneers have qualified for the postseason every year since 2015.
But there was a saying that Williams went with during their 13-0 season that he hopes will carry over to this Fall. The mentality that each half will be a new game. It helped in the Championship game against Dayton as they turned a 1-0 halftime deficit into a 3-3 tie going to Overtime before taking the Championship game 5-3.
“Every half will be a new game. Always play it 0-0, play at a high-intensity,” Williams said. “Having (the returners) start off with that ‘each half with a new intensity’, hopefully it’ll wear off on these underclassmen.”
Western Christian kicks off the season at Santiam Christian Thursday at 6:15pm.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald