With 3 weeks left in the regular season, Tri-Valley Conference Title hopes will be decided in the next 2 games for the Gladstone boys soccer team. Today, Gladstone (4-1-1 league) hosts Molalla (4-1-1) and next Tuesday the Gladiators travel to Madras (4-0-2) to take on the league leading White Buffaloes.
4th year head coach Ryan Hardwick predicted this situation before the season. “(Molalla and Madras) are returning very strong players while we are still very young” says Hardwick. But, he adds “this team has more athletes spread over multiple positions” than his previous teams at Gladstone.
One player who is making a big difference for the Gladiators this season is junior Josiah Bitter, leading the team in goals so far. “He’s our most experienced returning field player. We look for him to dictate and control the middle of the field and distribute on the attack” says his coach.
Other impact players include a couple of sophomores in hardworking Derek Johnson, and Eduardo Diaz, a creative midfielder. “Derek’s ability to play multiple positions is going to help the team this year” says his coach, adding that “Eduardo is skilled on the ball and when given space is very dangerous.”
“The overall goal is to build a foundation for the upcoming seasons without selling themselves short on the possible success that can come this year” says Hardwick. The Gladiators will get their chance this week and next against the best of the rest in Tri-Valley Conference. The game tonight vs. Molalla is at 6:00 pm tonight at Gladstone High School.