The 2019 fall sports season at Taft 7-12 provided many highlights and memories athletes and coaches won’t soon forget.
And for their efforts on the field and on the court, many individual Tigers took home numerous postseason honors.
The Lady Tigers volleyball team had one of its best seasons in recent memory. Taft finished 7-13 overall with a 4-4 record in league play.
Their stellar play gave them a spot in the district playoffs where they defeated Rainier 3-1 before losing to Willamina 3-0 in the second round.
“We have a crazy young team that’s only going to get better the longer they play together,” head coach Kelsey Hart said. “We’re definitely in a great position to continue our upward trend of improvement.”
The Tigers may have a young team, but they were not lacking in talent. Three Taft volleyball players earned All-League honors, led by sophomore Lily Hatton, who was named First Team All-League.
Freshman Natalie Gates was named to the Second Team, while junior Keeara Harmon was given an Honorable Mention to round out Taft’s season awards.
The Taft girls soccer team had a season of highs and lows that included starting off winning their first two games, going on a four game skid and also defeating top ranked Blanchet Catholic at home.
Overall, the Lady Tigers finished the season with a 6-9 record and a 5-7 record in league play. Like the volleyball team, they also earned a spot in the league playoffs, where they defeated Salem Academy/Western Christian 2-0 before losing to Dayton 2-0 in the second round.
“I am hard on the kids, but they know at the end of the day, I love and respect each and every one of them but I will always be honest and direct about things like character, humility, kindness and sportsmanship,” head coach Joey Arce-Torres said. “Overall, I think they all got a passing grade this season.”
Taft’s high character displayed on the field this season was rewarded with a team sportsmanship award, making it the second consecutive year receiving the honor. Individually, the Lady Tigers were led by senior Sammy Halferty, who not only was named First Team All-League, but also the Special District 2 Player of the Year.
Other awards included a Second Team All-League award for Avery Nightengale, as well as Honorable Mentions for Chloe Peterson, Delayna O’Daniels and Corey Van Damme.
The Taft boys soccer team had a historic season that included an undefeated regular season, a district championship, a trip to the State Playoffs and of course plenty of post-season awards.
Finishing the season with an impressive 17-1 overall record and 14-0 league record, the boys team defeated Delphian 3-0 in the league championship before advancing to the semifinals in the State Playoffs, where they eventually lost 6-0 to State Champs Catlin Gabel.
Taft collected numerous All-League awards including First Team honors for junior William Calderon, senior Edson Fuentes and junior Jose Flores.
Junior Alex Del Valle, senior Estib Hernandez and sophomore Sam Cortes all cracked the Second Team All-League list, while juniors Ivan Cortez, Mauricio Rivas and Ethan Thomas were honorable mentions.
Head coach Ryan Ulicni was named Special District 2 Coach of the Year and Fuentes was named the league’s Player of the Year.
“It has been an absolute honor to see him play and have him captain of this team,” Ulicni said of Fuentes. “He is the standard to which all the kids strive to be. In and out of the classroom or on and off of the field, there has never been a more true leader.”
Note: All-League awards for the Taft 7-12 football team have yet to be released and will be coming soon.