WEST SALEM — Summit, South Salem and McKay are probably mentioned the most as upper echelon in Mountain Valley Conference boys soccer this season.
West Salem is making noise, too, though, under new coach Sean Young.
Young, the all-time goals and points leader for Oregon State (32 career goals, 75 points from 1988-92), had his team at 5-3-1 (1-1-0 and tied for third in the MVC) start going into this week.
The top three finishers in the nine-team league will be among 21 automatic qualifiers for the Class 6A playoffs. The 11 highest-ranked teams from any league not in that list will join them for the first round.
Young said he believes the Titans have a shot to make the field. Through last week, West Salem was ranked 15th in 6A by the Oregon School Activities Association.
“We’ve got great character and a lot of belief, which the guys are turning into good things,” Young said.
Young finds it ironic that for someone who was on the attack in his own playing career, his Titans have been more impressive on defense than offense. West Salem posted five shutouts in its first seven games. The school single-season record is eight, he has been told.
One of those blank sheets came in a 0-0 standoff with Glencoe, a 6A team that was 7-0-1 through last week.
Junior goalkeeper Angel-Nicolai Herrera has all five shutouts.
“He’s got a lot of determination, is fast and really good hands,” said Young, who hails from Federal Way, Washington, and coached ninth-graders in Japan as well as 15 years of club soccer in Tucson, Arizona.
The keeper gets plenty of support from Titans such as senior center defender Gerald “Ben” Williams and senior defensive midfielder Jesua Pena-Herrera. Williams is team captain.
Senior forward Kaden Young, the coach’s son, has figured into nearly all of West Salem’s scores.
Another senior, Lorenzo Trejo De Dios, is “a really tricky attacking guy good at dribbling and taking guys on,” the coach said.
And Drew Guevara, a junior, is another key attacking player.
“It’s a pretty fun group,” Young said. “I’m excited to build a program. This is a great community for it.”
Last week, the Titans fell 3-1 to South Salem but bounced back with a 4-1 victory at Mountain View.
Junior Andrew Zohner got the first goal at Mountain View from the top of the penalty box and off an assist from Kaden Young. Senior Zanden Montgomery’s header via senior Enzo Trejo De Dios made the score 2-0 at halftime. Early in the second half, Young fed Lorenzo Trejo De Dios for another goal. Mountain View scored, but West Salem kept up the offensive pressure, with Zohner scoring off a pass by senior Sterling Barnes.
Senior Chigozirim Odoemelam stepped in at goalkeeper with Herrera injured and made several stops in the win.
West Salem has five regular-season matches remaining, starting with Thursday’s 4 p.m. game against Bend.
The Dallas Dragons (1-6-0, 0-2-0 Mid-Willamette Conference) and Central Panthers (1-5-1, 0-2-0) continue to look for wins as the boys soccer regular season heads into its final three weeks.
Dallas is at Silverton on Thursday, while Central plays host to West Albany at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The rivalry game is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, with Dallas at Central at 7 p.m.
The Dragons lost 7-0 to North Salem and 5-0 at Crescent Valley last week, holding CV scoreless after halftime.
The Panthers fell 8-0 at Corvallis, then 2-0 at Woodburn.