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By Jaryd Cline
Sports editor 

Goldendale teams start in new Gorge Soccer 5v5 League

Coach Mike DeMott hopes to continue building momentum for boys high school program

 

April 11, 2018



Just last month, Goldendale’s Mike DeMott teamed with the Central Klickitat County Parks and Recreation District to give the high-school age boys around town a chance to compete in a sport that hasn’t been offered at Goldendale High School in years. Soccer.

And just last Sunday, nine boys and 12 Goldendale girls were across the river in The Dalles, getting their first taste of action as a part of the 22 team Gorge Soccer 5v5 League.

The boys, with a handful of young talented athletes, went on to win 11-5 while the Goldendale girls narrowly fell 1-0 with the only goal they surrendered a miscommunication where the ball was tapped into their own goal.

While the first game was just a few days ago, DeMott and the group of kids have been practicing each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for two hours at the high school soccer field, with some of the kids doubling up on soccer while also playing another spring high school sport.

DeMott’s initial thought was to just offer the chance to compete for the boys who didn’t have the option of playing on a high school team.

“I have a group of boys that don’t have a (high school) team to go to this year,” DeMott said. “So I thought ‘How can I create an opportunity for these kids to play that really want to play?’”

DeMott, whose wife, Anna, coaches the girls high school team, noticed that one of the differences between Goldendale’s girls team and other teams from around the league is opportunity.

“Just the fact that in other communities the kids have so much more opportunities to play year round,” DeMott said. “So I thought, ‘Why don’t we open this up for girls too for the spring?’”

And that’s what they did, offering boys and girls a chance to play in the spring league. DeMott said that he received nearly all the registrations right away after signups opened up. There was enough interest to create both a boys and girls team, which DeMott coaches both of.

Normally, the girls high school team plays throughout the fall season and many of the girls go on to compete in other Goldendale sports in the winter and spring before returning for a month or so of summer practices. The DeMotts are anticipating a smoother transition into the fall soccer season from the girls who have been practicing three days a week and have been playing in competitive games.

“I’ve been running them through drills, scrimmages and stuff in an effort to get their skills up,” DeMott said. “I think it will help the high school girls team be more competitive. They’ll have this whole bit of time where they’re able to play where normally they wouldn’t get started until June. So now they have practice in March, April, May.”

While the girls will pick up their summer practices in June, there’s nowhere for the boys to go without a high school team. DeMott said he would try to keep the group of boys together and continue practicing while volunteering to drive them to locations throughout the area and set up scrimmages with other high school teams.

“I’m going to try and create an opportunity for them to play,” DeMott said. “And probably go out and get some school support to see if we can get the boys team back next year.”

But getting a boys high school program back up and running is the main goal. The numbers and interest is there, with 21 students last year saying they would have played had there been a team, and so is the talent.

Youth soccer in the area by far has had the biggest turnout among other youth sports offered – well over 100 kids with the numbers rising every year – although once the boys finish middle school, there’s nowhere for them to go.

DeMott has volunteered the last couple of years with youth soccer and knows all too well about the talent and interest, noting that some of the kids play other sports they aren’t as interested in since there isn’t a soccer program, while some kids sit idle in the spring who otherwise would’ve played soccer.

“We have some really strong boys’ talent here with soccer,” DeMott said. “This is the right time. You have just amazing seventh- and eighth-grade talent coming up. I have some freshmen and sophomore boys that are just outstanding considering that really they haven’t had a lot of opportunity here. These are kids that are working on their own to get good.

“This is the perfect time to build a program,” he added.

Until then, the boys and girls teams will be in The Dalles the next six Sundays, competing against Gorge League teams from Hood River, White Salmon, and The Dalles.

The Gorge League uses a smaller size field than regulation fields with smaller goals, making it more of a quick-paced game with more scoring chances. The games are played on 25 by 40 yard fields, while the high school 11-on-11 fields are 100 by 60 yards. The games also are shorter than standard soccer games with the Gorge League playing two 20-minute halves. Although it’s the Gorge Soccer 5v5 League, there’s six players on the field for each team with a goalie included.

“It’s really fast. A lot of ball movement. A lot of opportunities to shoot from almost anywhere on the field,” DeMott said.

Although playing once a week in the Gorge League is a good start down the route to getting a boys soccer program back in the school, showing that the interest and talent is there, the short 40 minute games weren’t able to completely satisfy the needs of the young, soccer-hungry kids looking to compete as often as possible.

“What was funny is after this last weekend at the end of both games, at the end of the boys game the boys were like ‘Can we play again? Can we play again? We want to go again.’ And the girls were the same way, ‘Oh we wish we could just play a second game’ and they were just really excited,” DeMott said.

Both teams are back in action on Sunday, with the boys kicking off at 12:20 p.m. and the girls after at 3:40. The games are played at Dry Hollow Elementary School in The Dalles, 1214 E 19th St.

 

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