Corvallis High fought all season to get a second chance at a boys soccer state title.
And the Spartans got it.
CHS will attempt to complete its quest for a state championship on Saturday, facing top-seeded La Salle in a 10:30 a.m. matchup between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in 5A at Hillsboro Stadium.
The Spartans fell 2-1 in overtime to Woodburn last season.
Corvallis (14-1-2) advanced to this year's final thanks to a 3-0 shutout win over South Albany in the semifinals. While the Spartans didn’t come out strong to start the game, once their mind was clear and their goal of going to state was once again at the forefront of their vision, everything came together.
“Honestly it’s the best feeling,” captain Avery Whipple said of being headed back to the state title game. “Ever since that November 11th loss to Woodburn in state last year, our goal has been to get back there. Now that we’ve done it, we’ve got to grind and finish that game and put it away to take home the state title.”
La Salle enters Saturday’s contest with a near-perfect record of 16-0-1, but the one tie came against the Spartans early in the season.
“La Salle is a very finesse team,” Whipple said. “We tied them 3-3 earlier in the season, but we didn’t put the game away. We were up 2-1 with 10 minutes to go and then we settled for the 3-3 tie. With them, we have to make sure to play a full game and go hard for 80 minutes, not 70.”
The Falcons defeated North Salem (3-1), Ridgeview (2-0) and Central (3-2) en-route to the title game.
Spartans’ coach Chad Foley knows just how difficult it will be to push past the Falcons.
“La Salle is probably the best team in state and they’re right up there with us as far as keeping the ball and playing a team game,” Foley said. “They’ll present a very tough challenge but I know that we’ll be up for it. We have a ton of talent and heart on this team and that’s shown day by day with our senior leadership.”
Working in the Spartans’ favor is that they hope to travel a large contingent of fans to Hillsboro Stadium to counteract the near home-field advantage for La Salle, which is just 23 miles from its campus.
“It will be awesome to have Spartan Nation support us,” Foley said. “We’ve got great fans and a large alumni base and I’ll certainly be on the phone trying to get as many up to to Hillsboro as possible.”
With redemption and a shot to etch their names in CHS school history on Saturday, the Spartans could be nervous going into such a high-stakes game. But Whipple’s calming presence will look to keep the team locked in one on goal.
“It’s a final match, but at the end of the day it’s a soccer game,” Whipple said. “We’re doing what we all love every day and that’s being able to play soccer together. The only twist is, if you play well and you win it, you get a trophy.”