Boys Soccer Team Makes Playoff Run


Clarion photo Anna Suydam

Senior Stephen Treat calls for a pass during the homecoming game against Grant.

After a very strong 2021 season, the Cleveland boys soccer program says goodbye to a huge senior class, and looks ahead to next fall.

The Warriors faced adversity early in the season, posting a disappointing 1-3 start to their non-league schedule.

On Sept. 16 against David Douglas, Cleveland decided to make some adjustments, one of which led to one of the most memorable individual performances all season.

Stephen Treat, a senior forward who, despite playing solid minutes, had not started in the first four matches, finally got a chance in that role.

Treat was by far Cleveland’s most valuable player in that game, not only scoring a hat trick, but consistently setting up his teammates for opportunities to attack.

Looking back, Treat said, “That was fun, I put everything on the line in the first game I started and it felt great.”

Another huge takeaway from this game was the successful formational adjustment of adding an extra defender.

From this point on the Warriors were one of the strong defensive teams in Oregon, which Treat also mentioned.

“I’d say our biggest strength was our defense, because we did not give up a lot of goals in the regular season at all and I think that really helped us, especially in the playoffs, ” Treat said.

Following the 4-1 victory against David Douglas, Cleveland finished non-league play with a pair of road victories against Reynolds and Woodburn.

Beating Woodburn 3-1 was particularly impressive, because that team ended up ranked three spots higher than Cleveland.

On the surface a 4-3 record in non-league play didn’t look great, but the Warriors found their form in the last three games. They began showing the strengths that would propel them to a much better 4-1-2 record in PIL.

Cleveland’s defense, aided by near flawless play from keeper Ibrahm Garza, recorded two clean sheets and conceded only four goals in seven PIL matches. They also never allowed more than one goal in that stretch.

Senior midfielder Seb Buscaglia said the team’s unity was their biggest strength, which also showed across these matches. There was a clear morale boost from being in such good form.

Cleveland’s offense in this stretch was powered by Buscaglia, Treat, and sophomore Soloman Barnett.

The biggest highlights were a 3-1 win against 18th-ranked Franklin, and a 0-0 tie against fifth ranked Grant.

When it was all said and done the Warriors secured second place in PIL, and the 13th seed for the playoffs, which they looked to outplay beginning in round one against the 20th-ranked Central Catholic Rams.

Cleveland ran into some frustration in this match, repeatedly setting up great scoring chances, but between missed shots and perfect goalkeeping the score remained 0-0 through 90 minutes.

Cleveland’s consistent attacking was bound to pay off eventually, but that didn’t make watching the match any less stressful, as shots over the crossbar and flawless goalkeeping kept Central alive through the first half of overtime.

As the second wound down, Cleveland set up a scoring chance on the right side of the box, and among the chaos of a deflected pass and a Warriors shot on goal, all but one Central defender crowded that side. The rebound off the hands of the keeper landed right at Ceazar Daniell’s feet on the left edge, and he snuck the shot past the lone defender and into the open net.

Finally, the Warriors were off to round two.

For this round Cleveland matched up against an intimidating South Salem team. The fourth seeded Saxons had an incredible season, never giving up more than three goals, and tying first place Summit (the only match all season they didn’t win).

The Warriors were tasked with facing this team on the road, where South Salem held a 5-2-1 record.

Coming off an hour-long bus ride the Warriors pulled off an upset, winning the match 4-2. Buscaglia noted his impact on this game as his favorite memory from the season, saying, “my favorite memory was scoring a 40-yard goal in an upset.”

Treat also had an impact on this match, finishing a neat passing play in the bottom left corner of the net.

“That’s a win right there that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Nobody expects you to go out there, drive an hour down, and pull out four goals against a team that tied the best in the state,” said Treat.

Cleveland now carried momentum into their quarterfinal game against the fifth-seeded Grant Generals

This match played out much like the one against Central Catholic, where each team found some quality chances, but both teams played such strong defense that there was very little sustained offense.

Unfortunately Cleveland’s march through the bracket ended on penalties, losing 4-3, a devastating result, but one that showed the unity, support, and resilience that pushed this team so far.

Now comes the hardest part of supporting a high school sports team, the seniors. This offseason is going to be especially difficult, because Cleveland carried 21 seniors on their roster this year, including crucial players at every position.

Thankfully the Warriors do have some new and returning players ready to step up, which includes sophomore forward Solomon Barnett.

“At the beginning it was hard, I had to work for every minute and nothing was given to me,” Barnett said about being the only sophomore. “Since then, I’ve worked my hardest to earn my starting spot.”

Barnett proved the Warriors’ decision to reward him with a starting role right, as he became a serious scoring threat and fit in well with the juniors and seniors on the team.

The PIL All-League teams showcase the Warriors’ strengths well. Seniors Seb Buscaglia and Elliot Stone made the first team, with Seb also locking up offensive player of the year, goalkeeper Ibrahm Garza and center back Cody Ho landed on the second team, and senior midfielder Alex Webster, junior midfielder Elijah Edelman, and Solomon Barnett were honorable mentions.

As Treat said, the upset against South Salem is something this group will never forget, the seniors get to leave the school knowing the excitement they provided, and the returners get to build off that going into 2022. This Warriors team created memories for themselves, their coaches, and their classmates, and we can only hope their resilience and unity is recreated next year.