HILLSBORO — Chad Foley has some simple advice as he met with his team before they took the field for overtime in Saturday’s 5A boys soccer state title game.
“Believe in what we do,” Corvallis High’s coach told the players. “Do it together and it will be our day.”
They did, and it was.
A year after giving up a late goal in regulation and falling in overtime in the title game, the Spartans avenged that loss and got sweet redemption.
Edgar Monroy scored 3 minutes, 53 seconds into the first of two 10-minute overtime periods and the Spartans fended off La Salle Prep the last 16 minutes for a 1-0 victory.
It is the Spartans' first state title since 2009.
“Words can’t really describe this feeling,” Foley said. “You always talk about what it’s going to feel like but you’re never prepared for the moment.
“I’m just so proud of my players and the hard work that they’ve all put into this season but also the seasons that have led to this. This has been a long time coming.”
Senior captain Avery Whipple, who had the assist on Monroy’s goal, said last year’s heartbreak makes this one even sweeter.
“Honestly it’s amazing,” he said. “And I think it’s a better feeling because we lost it last year. We knew what it took to get here, we did it this year and the difference was we closed it out this year.”
Unlike last season when the Spartans (15-1-2) entered overtime having just allowed the tying goal in the closing minutes, there was plenty of confidence with the way they closed the second half.
“I saw the way we were playing finally in the second half, the way we were playing with that confidence and playing our style,” Foley said. “I knew it was going to come. It was just a matter of time.”
Part of the reason was the Spartans started to play the ball more to the middle.
That was key in the game-winning goal as Whipple played a ball to Monroy and he was able to bury it for the lead.
“I was just happy my winger played me the ball and Ed and I have scored that goal so many times,” Whipple said. “He’s running across, I see the space and I put it in and luckily he was able to get to it and put it in the back of the net this time.”
Monroy, who also scored the Spartans’ lone goal in last year’s title game and was playing with a pulled groin muscle, said he was open and credited Whipple for the pass.
“I was lucky enough to make that run and Avery Whipple was there to chip it over the players,” he said. “The goalie wasn’t expecting that so I was able to finish it.”
That left 16 minutes for the Spartans to withstand to complete their season of redemption.
It certainly wasn’t easy.
La Salle Prep (16-1-1) nearly equalized in the first minute of the second overtime but goal keeper Roman Gabriel was able to punch it away.
“I didn’t know if it was going to dip or not because the wind is a little crazy so I just decided to throw it over,” he said.
Whipple said that play was huge.
“Honestly he saved our season so many times and it’s just a sense of safety having that guy back there,” Whipple said. “You know that you can make a mistake and he will be there to cover you. … He’s amazing.”
And as the clock finally ticked to zero, the Spartans were able to celebrate.
“This time we were able to maintain our defense and succeed,” Monroy said.
The Spartans withstood a flurry from La Salle Prep in the final seven minutes of the first half to keep the game scoreless.
It began after a yellow card set up a free kick for 32 yards out. While the kick was blocked, it led to a cross and a header that was deflected wide.
A corner kick didn’t result in anything, nor did another free kick that went right to Gabriel. A give away seconds later also didn’t pan out.
Another corner kick was dangerous but again the Falcons couldn’t finish.
Escaping, the Spartans knew they had an edge in the second half.
“We’re just kind of like a second-half team,” Gabriel said. “We knew we were going to get the job done somehow, someway.”
That they did.