HERMISTON — The Mid-Columbia Conference boys soccer team was dominated by the Richland Bombers, but tucked into the mix was a handful of Hermiston Bulldogs, with midfielder Alexis Leal leading the way. The conference named Leal to the first team.
A senior, Leal had two goals and three assists, but his value went beyond goals, which conference coaches recognized.
“His vision of the field and ability to find passes was second to none and is why he received the most votes of any midfielder,” Hermiston coach Rich Harshberger said. “He was the key to our midfield and building up play from the defense to the offense. He worked tirelessly up and down the pitch to move the ball and create offense, and then worked just as hard to win the ball back on defense.”
Richland senior Spencer Crithfield was named MCC Player of the Year, while the Bombers’ Octavio DoValle was named Coach of the Year.
Hermiston, which finished 5-4 in the MCC and 6-7 overall, also had junior Sam Cadenas (forward), senior Abel Varela Lepe (midfielder) and senior goalkeeper Josh Farias named to the second team.
Cadenas, who is a football lineman and state-caliber wrestler, led the Bulldogs in scoring with seven goals.
“Sam’s athleticism and work ethic were recognized around the league,” Harshberger said. “He was able to perform at this level even though he was isolated up top as our lone striker, oftentimes having to work through multiple defenders to create chances on goal.”
Varela Lepe scored six goals and was Hermiston’s second-leading scorer.
“He was a critical component of our midfield trio, oftentimes providing the final spark to score a goal,” Harshberger said. “He helped transition from defense to offense and was capable of shooting the ball with accuracy 25-plus yards from goal, and scored several ‘bangers’ throughout the season.”
Farias posted four shutouts on the season and finished with a sterling 1.11 goals against average. He had 56 saves on the year.
“Josh was a reliable presence in goal for us after he established himself as our clear No. 1,” Harshberger said. “His cool-headed demeanor and solid goalkeeping kept us in some crucial matches, most notably our 1-0 victory over Hanford at the midseason. He was a big reason for the success we had this year.”