Aidan Thrall’s first score was nothing short of brilliant.
Woodland soccer’s career leader in assists Brennan Lamoreaux slotted a ball neatly at the top of the 6-yard box and his teammate glided through the air. His long locks flew wildly in either direction but parted just enough for the Beavers’ sophomore to eye his target and slam it home.
It shocked a stagnant Beavers’ squad to life, before Thrall added a couple more and younger brother, Jesse, tacked on one himself to help top R.A. Long 4-3 in a thrilling Greater St. Helens 2A League affair Monday at Longview Memorial Stadium.
“After that first goal, we got some hope again,” Thrall said. “Everyone knows we can do it. We have a great group of guys out here.”
Manny Cabrera, who has made an early case for league MVP, gave the Lumberjacks a 2-0 start. He drilled home a casual 25-yard free kick to make it 1-0 in the opening five minutes. A couple minutes later, he sent in what could only be presumed as a cross that happened to sail into the far netting.
“We did not handle the 2-0 lead well,” RAL coach Max Anderson said. “You could see the energy drop. Credit to Woodland, they came back twice tonight. They’re a great team.”
But Thrall countered in the 29th minute and the Beavers quickly jumped all over the Lumberjacks. The possession style of play coach Bryan Vogel tries to instill in his squad was played to perfection, given the narrow field at Longview Memorial.
And it was only a matter of time before Jesse Thrall equalized. The freshman slid a free kick underneath the keeper’s hands to make it 2-2 just before halftime.
“We just can’t give up four set piece goals,” Anderson said. “You take away those, and I’m happy with the effort.”
R.A. Long again came out hot in the second half, and Amilyonno Puc put his own mark on the game. Brady Anderson saved a cross from going over the endline to push it back to Puc, who slammed it inside the near post to make it 3-2 in the 60th minute.
Aidan Thrall made it 3-3 in the 67th minute by taking advantage of a scrum in the box before finding netting.
“We had tons of space in behind and Owen (Terhorst) could launch the ball in there,” Thrall said. “I recognized that, Jesse recognized that. We could do that all day.”
He won the game in the 78th minute when he took a pass off a corner kick and slammed it home.
“We’ve started in a hole every game it seems, and we’ve found ways to respond,” Vogel said. “Once we finally woke up, we made a game of it. … That’s a great thing to see out of the boys.”
In a battle of two teams trying to break into the top of the GSHL 2A, long dominated by Vancouver schools, Monday night showed the rest of the league, they’re here to stay. Woodland moves to 4-2 in league (7-3 overall) and R.A. Long falls to 4-2 in league (5-2-1 overall), putting them in a tie for third place, with Ridgefield and Columbia River above.
“We’re seeing the 2A has a very strong group of teams,” Vogel said. “For teams outside the traditional powers to be able to play a little bit, it’s only good for everyone once we get to the playoffs.”