Kenny Schier executes a strong kick to Grizzly teammates while playing one of the final games of the season. Photo by Greg Wallace

LHS boys demolish West Valley soccer

The Lassen High School varsity boys’ soccer team finished the Northern Athletic League play with a high note as the boys effortlessly creamed the visiting West Valley Eagles Thursday, Feb. 8.

Lassen had a grand advantage from the start as the boys preceded their game with senior night honors.

This year’s seniors include German Martinez and team captains Derek Anderson and Dustin Morgan.

The game against West Valley was bound to be difficult, as the Eagles had previously sported a 7-1-1 league record. Of the seven league wins made by the Eagles, one was the 4-0 shutout win against the Grizzlies Jan. 23.

However, the Grizzlies were determined to take the Eagles down with a strong team strategy.

Head coach Johan Kampfraat said, “I couldn’t have asked for a better performance from my boys. We knew going into this game wasn’t going to be easy; West Valley has some of the best passing in the league and are a very strong team, so we went into the game with a new strategy and game plan, made a few position changes and it seemed to work in our favor.”

Playing on the home field with masses of Grizzly supporters certainly allowed the Lassen boys to play on the right foot from the start. In the first half, Lassen established a strong 3-1 lead against the Eagles.

After the halftime break, Lassen was back on the field with the same passion seen during the first half. By the end of the game, the Grizzlies had a strong grasp on the 5-1 win, and they wouldn’t let anything stand in the way of their shining moment.

Nick Valdez passes the ball infield during the final home game of the season Thursday, Feb. 8. Photo by Greg Wallace

Kampfraat commented, “First off, captain Dustin Morgan finished off his last home game of his high school career with a Hat trick and never stopped driving the ball towards the opponent’s goal; he led the team to a much earned win.”

Though he scored a total of three goals, Morgan wasn’t the only highlight of the offensive line. The Grizzlies also saw a goal shot by Anthony Wagner and the final goal of the game was made by Dominic Sullivan.

Kampfraat said, “Co-captain Anthony Wagner game out this game playing one of his best this season, showing everyone why he is the best on and off the ball, using his unmatched speed and field awareness holding the midfield the whole game and getting a goal in the back of the net.”

After establishing a strong 4-1 lead against the Eagles, Sullivan was ready to finish the birds off with a swift one-touch finish.

Kampfraat recalled, “Dominic Sullivan finished the raining of goals off a beautiful one-touch finish from a cross made by German Martinez right to the inside of the post.”

Though the offensive line earned each and every cheer sent their way from the sidelines, the strongest supporters were those on the defensive line.

Kampfraat said, “The defense held their attackers and shutdown their passing game, thanks to the relentless defense by Derek Anderson on their main target man. The starting defense was Kenny Schier, Wes Langston, Cade Lile, and Nick Valdez.”

By the game’s end, the consistent performance from the defensive line earned the Grizzlies the awe and admiration of the countless purple and gold fans.

Anderson was selected the Lassen Soccer Player of the Game.

Ethan Heffner spent the entirety of the game protecting the Grizzly goal and was credited with the win for goaltending. Of the 12 shots on goal made against him, Heffner saved 11.

As a team, the Grizzlies had a total of 10 shots with eight shots on goal.

Kampfraat stated, “The team really game together as a whole and never backed off leading them to the 5-1 victory over the toughest team in the league.”

Prior to taking down the Eagles, Lassen took the show on the road to play against the Anderson Cubs Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Without the same luck that blessed the Grizzlies at home, Lassen ended the game against the Cubs on the losing side of a 6-1 score.

Lassen’s single goal was made by Morgan in the first half.

Heffner tended the goal for the entire 80 minutes yet again and saved nine shots on goal.

With their 5-4-1 league rank and their 9-7-1 overall rank, the Grizzlies enthusiastically traveled to Orland High School Thursday, Feb. 15 for the first round of Northern Section California Interscholastic Federation Division II Boys’ Soccer Playoffs.

Lassen was seeded sixth of the seven teams in the division playoffs.

The final score was 7-1, Orland. Wagner was selected as the Lassen Soccer Player of the Game.

Though the Grizzlies will not continue on in playoffs, the performance seen throughout the 2017-2018 season has made the purple and gold fans proud.