CHHS boys’ soccer team makes Hylander history

Players+for+the+CHHS+boys+soccer+team+celebrate+yet+another+win%2C+furthering+their+road+to+section+finals.+

Photo by Greta Wilson

Players for the CHHS boys soccer team celebrate yet another win, furthering their road to section finals.

The future is shining bright for the Columbia Heights High School (CHHS) varsity boys’ soccer team after achieving many victories and gaining recognition this fall season as the 2022 Tri-Metro Conference Champions. 

With an overall season record of thirteen wins and two losses, the team has been supported and praised throughout the district for a while now. The Hylanders have exceeded and outplayed opponents in their conference for two consecutive years at sections. Alongside their head coach, Hector Leon, the team has found themselves to be a family rather than just a team.

Throughout the season, the varsity boys have formed a brotherhood that helped them create great chemistry and, ultimately, like any great team, quickly started playing as one single, seemingly unstoppable unit. Composed of many CHHS upperclassmen, leadership has been vital in helping guide the younger players and upcoming generations. Despite the grueling preparation all the players endured, the team benefited greatly from all the long and exhausting practices.

“I feel the team’s achievements are a result of the players’ hard work and commitment to the team and each other,” Leon said. “We’ve always had great soccer talent at Heights, but managing egos and getting players to commit to the team strategy instead of depending on individual talent has always been our shortfall.” 

Despite how effortless the team made it seem, the Hylanders were challenged by many tough opponents. Games against Richfield, St. Anthony and the DeLaSalle varsity boys’ soccer teams all nearly resulted in ties. A few other teams were unlucky to face the CHHS team with their intimidating skills and complex gameplay too. Ultimately, the boys were able to defeat nearly the entire list of teams in the Tri-Metro conference—a feat that is in and of itself commendable and impressive.

Preparation for the sectional games was the next step for the boys’ soccer team once the regular season ended. For the Section 4AA Quarterfinal, they were successful in beating St. Paul Harding and swiftly moved on to the semi-final. Once again, the boys continued on in the playoffs and won their section game with a triumphant score of 5-0 against Totino Grace. The boys finished off their conference and were deservedly named the Tri-Metro Conference Champions of 2022. 

“We were able to succeed this year by counting on each other to get the job done and just having that team bonding, which really got the whole team closer together,” said captain and goalkeeper Mark Agudo (12). “The team goals for the future are definitely going to state for the first time in the [Heights] soccer program. So far, the actions we have taken are leaving something special so the next year’s team can continue it and so on.”

The section finals against Hill-Murray High School was a highly anticipated game for both players and spectators alike. Hill-Murray was ranked first in the state while CHHS was officially ranked third (but with the likely potential to jump to second). Despite the cold weather, many Columbia Heights supporters were present to cheer on the boys. Unfortunately, after a long and exhilarating match, the game ended in Hill-Murray’s favor with a final score of 2-1. The CHHS varsity boys’ soccer team was devastated. Bittersweet emotions flooded the stadium, but many Hylanders both on and off the field were proud of how well they played.

 Despite the defeat, this team has made history and will continue to do so. Their tough mindsets and passion for the game of soccer have helped them throughout the season, even against the greatest of teams. Furthermore, some individuals from the team received statewide recognition for excellence and achievements in their gameplay, including goalkeeper Christian Martin Lopez (11), center attacking midfielder Jordan Jagt (12) and centerback Jason Carpio (12). The entire Columbia Heights community is excited to see the CHHS varsity boys’ soccer team continue to thrive and conquer with the help of their coaches, support from fans and the future prospects that demonstrate great talent, including the Columbia Academy boys’ soccer season finishing their run undefeated this year.

“[In the future,] I look to—at the very least—maintain our level of team sportsmanship and intensity,” Leon said. “I feel after this season, everyone in our soccer program now knows that we can be serious competitors, we can go toe-to-toe with some of the best, we are potential state contenders, but that it comes down to doing that as a team and always finding ways to improve ourselves and our game. If we maintain these two traits of this successful team going forward, I know we will not be a one-hit wonder and we will continue to improve our school’s soccer program and reputation.” 

This is certainly not the end, but rather an accomplished and promising new beginning for Hylander soccer at Columbia Heights High School.