The group made quite the first impression on coach Jon Fresh.
Four years ago, the bulk of this year’s Westview boy’s soccer roster arrived as one, 14 bleary-eyed freshmen. Half of them came from the Westside Metros club and, naturally, there was a familiarity. The chemistry leapt out, their youth notwithstanding.
“I knew right then and there, that if we fostered that, this group of boys could go far,” he said.
Fresh, who’s program was coming off a 2-0 state championship win over Jesuit, was ready to start pushing towards the next era of great Westview teams. And when he looks back on it now, he admits he’s surprised it’s taken this long, because after COVID-19 rendered one season mute, and last year’s Wildcats failed to live up to internal expectations, they’re back in the spotlight just in time for this senior class to make a statement.
Coincidentally, Fresh’s squad will face No. 1 Jesuit, of all teams, on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Class 6A state championship.
The No. 7 Wildcats spent the offseason “redesigning” their program, what they stood for and their approach after Fresh felt like last year’s team didn’t believe in themselves. Fresh spent the summer at the school, doing team bonding and leadership activities and whatever else it took to get his players to refocus and rekindle that chemistry and camaraderie he was once so allured by.
That’s exactly what Westview has done.
“We rebranded ourselves with the philosophy and kind of understanding that we are a brotherhood,” he said.
What they didn’t prove in the regular season, they have through their playoff run. After back-to-back 2-1 victories over West Linn and Grant, the Wildcats have slogged out overtime victories against No. 2 Lakeridge and No. 11 Aloha.
“We don’t give up and so whatever chaos there may be, we’re not going to stop,” Fresh said.
Senior Javier Blas has been pivotal to the late-season success, Fresh said.
“He doesn’t get the accolades that some of our other players do,” he said. “He does all of the dirty work.”
He broke out in a late-season game against Beaverton, and since then has been “the man of each match” alongside leading goalscorer JJ Diaz and fellow senior Sasha DeVassie.
A sense of belief has been fostered amongst the Westview players. Their gutsy playoff wins have helped, no doubt, but it’s a feeling that traces back to the start of this season.
“I’ve said all along, any team can win it this year.”
Why not the senior-laiden Westview club with the character-building wins in their pocket?
“I like our chances,” he said. “I believe in this team. I love the boys.”