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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Tigers face familiar foe for berth in State boys soccer semifinals

It’s perfectly understandable in Oregon soccer circles to confuse perennial powers Riverdale and Riverside high schools.

Similar in name, the two are commonly among the usual suspects to appear in the 16-team Class 3A/2A/1A OSAA State Boys Soccer Championships.


The same is true this year. Competing in opposite brackets, with a couple of upsets, it’s entirely conceivable they could meet when the State championship game is contested Saturday, Nov. 16, at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.

Coach Ryan Ulicni’s Taft Tigers hope to have something to say about that. Both schools have a history with Taft that the Lincoln City team would like to bury in the past.

Taft High Special District 2 Coach of the Year Ryan Ulicni

While the Class 3A schools are as about as disparate as two small-school programs from the same state sharing the same size classification can be, Taft has twice been eliminated from State play in the last four years by Riverside and once by Riverdale.

Not to be confused with seventh-seeded Riverside High, a public school in Boardman on the Columbia River, Saturday’s opponent — fifth-seeded Riverdale — is a semi-private school in the affluent Dunthorpe neighborhood of Portland.

While the Riverside Pirates (12-3, 10-0 Eastern Oregon League) will wear blue and black and play at No. 2 Oregon Episcopal on Saturday, the Riverdale Mavericks (10-2-1, 7-1-1 Lewis & Clark) will wear navy blue and silver when they take on the host Tigers at 5 p.m. in a quarterfinal showdown for the second time in three years.

Riverdale is unique in that it is a public school where students from outside the district must go through an admissions process and pay tuition to attend. According to recent U.S. Census data, the Riverdale School District is the third-richest school district in the United States.

Photos by Lon French

It is also among the best academically performing high schools in Oregon by various measures, including academic proficiency, graduation rate, college enrollment and standardized test scores, which are frequently the best in the state.

Athletically, Riverdale won the 2012 OSAA boys soccer title, the school’s only State championship.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: For you Jugheads, Riverdale High also shouldn’t be mistaken for Riverdale High in the “The Archie Show” cartoons of the late 1960s or the recent Netflix programming loosely based on the popular comic book series.

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While Riverside has eliminated Taft from State title contention two of the past four seasons, Taft’s quarterfinal tilt with Riverdale will be a rematch of a 2017 second-round State game, where the second-seeded Tigers were upset 3-2 at home by the 10th-seeded Mavericks following a 7-0 first-round home win over Nyssa.

“Two years ago, they knocked us out of State in the second round here and we all know that,” Taft senior and leading scorer Edson Fuentes said. “We all remember that, and I think that’s going to be fuel for us. I think we’re going to want some sort of revenge on them, and I think we’re going to come out hard in that game.”

The winner will play the winner of Saturday’s 6 p.m. contest between No. 8 seed Santiam Christian and top-ranked Catlin Gabel on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the site of the highest remaining seed.

Sam Cortes

Coach Roberto Curilovic’s Mavericks are led by senior team captains Damien Pimont and Noah Chanti.

Riverdale is coming off a 1-0 opening-round victory over SD2 runner-up Delphian. Regular-season league champion Taft defeated Delphian twice by 3-1 scores this year and 3-0 at home last Saturday to earn the league’s top seed as District champion. Unbeaten Taft (16-0, 15-0 Special District 2) downed Central Linn 11-0 Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals.

The Tigers are led by Fuentes, the Special District 2 Player of the Year, and fellow first-team all-league members William Calderon and Jose Flores. Three other Taft players — Estib Hernandez, Alex Del Valle and Sam Cortes — made the second team, while Ivan Cortez, Mauricio Rivas and Ethan Thomas were honorable mention.

Edson Fuentes

Fuentes leads Taft in scoring with 38 goals on 121 shots in 16 games, followed by Calderon with 26. Calderon leads the team with 19 assists, with Flores next with 16. Notably, sophomore Sammy Vasquez, who scored three goals in Wednesday’s lopsided opening-round State win, did not make the crowded all-District squad despite being third on the Tigers in scoring.

William Calderon

While Taft has enjoyed extensive State tournament exposure in recent seasons, it hopes to avenge first-round ousters three of the past five seasons and quarterfinal defeats the other two years.

“This team has admitted that there is a passion and unity like never before,” Ulicni said. “We will be working hard as ever to make sure we are game-ready come Saturday.”


Riverdale Mavericks 

Coach: Roberto Curilovic

No. Name Grade
00 Gabriel Stevens 10
0 Walter deWitt 9
3 Henry Seal 11
4 Sylvain Raj 11
5 Aiden Pierce 9
6 Dillon Wendle 10
7 Damien Pimont 12
8 Oliver Nielsen 11
10 Sam Veverka 10
11 Emerson Pereira 12
12 Felipe da Silva Corsi 10
13 Anders Nielsen 9
15 Claes James 10
16 Aidan Wendle 12
18 Andrew Lamb 9
20 Teddy Altman 10
21 Noah Chanti 12
22 Henry Tolls 12
23 Luke Denton 9
24 Simon Starrs 10

Taft Tigers 

Coach: Ryan Ulicni

No. Name Position Grade
00 Sam Cortes GK/GK 10
0 Riley Ellis GK/M 10
4 Ivan Cortez D/D 11
5 Jose Flores M/M 11
7 J.J. Lupercio D/D 10
8 Kevin Acosta M/M 11
9 Sammy Vasquez F/M 10
10 Edson Fuentes F/F 12
11 William Calderon M/F 11
16 Joseph Cruz M/M 11
19 Estib Hernandez D/D 12
21 Alex Del Valle M/D 11
22 Angel Islas D/D 10
23 Adrian Moreno D/D 10
29 Diego Gomez M/F 9
33 Mauricio Rivas M/M 11
50 Kaden Wright M/M 12
88 Matias Vesma M/F 12


Jim Fossum
Jim Fossumhttp://SilverandBlackToday.com
Homepage Executive Editor and former longtime Sports Editor of the near-200,000 circulation Las Vegas Review-Journal, Fossum brings 40 years of award-winning experience covering virtually every facet of print and digital journalism to Lincoln City Homepage. The former longtime reporter for the Newport News-Times and Lincoln City News Guard is also Editor-in-Chief and Senior Columnist for SilverandBlackToday.com, which covers the NFL's Oakland (Las Vegas) Raiders.


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