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Chemeketa storms through playoffs

Photo by Diana Inch

Chemeketa’s men’s soccer team has come out in dominating fashion this season, despite last season’s setbacks. With second-year Head Coach Cristian Curiel at the helm, Chemeketa has attained a current record of 11–2–1.

“Last year was my first year as a head coach, so it was about building that foundation,” Curiel said about last year’s poor season. “But we knew it was a work in progress, and we can see the success of that this year.”

With improvements in both team coordination and finishing at the goal, the Chemeketa Storm pushed for a deep playoff run. After starting the season with two victories, Chemeketa took their first loss early in the season in a game against Tacoma Community College, but that didn’t stop them from striking back. Led by freshman Sebastian Ruelas, the Storm went on to win eight of their next nine games, placing Chemeketa at the top of the region. A hard-fought match against Lane Community College came to a draw at 1-1. When asked about the game, Curiel said Lane had done their research, and he had to give their coach credit for exploiting Chemeketa’s weaknesses.

The Storm started October with two wins, but a loss on Oct. 13 against Southwest Oregon Community College tied Chemeketa with them for the first seed with 19 league points, followed by Lane and Portland with 11. The top three teams advanced to the playoffs, and with two more games remaining in the season, Chemeketa needed just one win or tie to guarantee their place in the Northwest Athletic Conference playoffs.

For Curiel, playoffs and trophies aren’t his priority. “It’s useless to me if I make champions, and you can’t just finish your degree at Chemeketa,” he said. “That’s my focus. I want to create better human beings.”

On Oct. 20, Portland Community College beat Chemeketa 3-0, but the Storm rebounded on Oct. 24, defeating Lane 2-1, granting the Storm it’s much needed single win, ensuring their place in the playoffs.

Shortly after, on Oct. 31, Chemeketa was defeated 0-1 by Columbia Basin, spelling the end of the Storm’s short playoff season.

Despite the defeat, Chemeketa remains the second-ranked team in Oregon’s south region, rounding out the year with a 75% win rate, and only 2 losses.

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