Senior striker Rhyli Grim has scored in every match this season for Gladstone, seeded third in the 4A playoffs.
Senior striker Rhyli Grim has scored in every match this season for Gladstone, seeded third in the 4A playoffs.

After exploding for 27 goals as a junior, Gladstone’s Rhyli Grim was determined to take it up another notch for her senior soccer season.

“I knew I wanted it this year,” Grim said. “My goal was getting 100 goals for my high school career.”

Grim eclipsed that mark, getting to 103 to climb to No. 11 on the state’s all-time list. And with a state-leading 45 goals this season, she is threatening the state single-season record of 55, set by Jesuit’s Callan Harrington in 2019.

As the third-seeded Gladiators (13-1) prepare for their first-round playoff game Wednesday against No. 14 Klamath Union (7-7-1) -- and the possibility of four more matches -- the record is in Grim’s sights.

“That’s definitely within reach,” said Grim, who stands at No. 8 on the single-season list. “I definitely think I’d be able to do that. I’m hoping we go to the state finals this year, and I think we can.”

Grim has scored in every match this season for Gladstone, which has won 13 in a row since falling to No. 5 seed Scappoose 3-1 in the opener. She is the driving force behind an offense that has scored a 4A-high 87 goals.

“We have options, but when Rhyli gets the ball, she’s our girl,” first-year Gladstone coach Anna Heuberger said. “We move her around quite a bit. I think teams scouting us have a hard time figuring out where she’s going to go. She really excels anywhere we put her on the field.”

Grim said she has become more aggressive and better at finishing as a senior.

“I’ve improved a lot with my footwork, because I started playing futsal pretty regularly this past year,” she said. “So that’s improved me a lot, especially shooting on a frame my accuracy.”

Grim has a knack for converting on unconventional ways.

“A few games ago, it was like 35 yards out, and it wasn’t exactly the perfect technique, and you can hardly believe that she just hit it upper V,” Heuberger said. “You can’t really coach that, and it’s really hard to defend that. We just kind of laugh on the sidelines like, ‘Well, that was awesome.’”

Heuberger said that Grim’s approach to attacking has matured throughout the season.

“One of her biggest attributes is that she’s fast,” Heuberger said. “We’ve really been talking to her about quality shots, making every shot on goal count. I think that level of focus and slowing down a little bit has been super exciting for us to watch. I think her soccer intelligence over this season has definitely improved.”

Scoring has always been in the DNA of Grim. A longtime member of the Thelo United club program, she estimates that she has scored up to 400 goals in her soccer career.

She continues to score despite increased attention from defenses, often getting triple-teamed. When the Gladiators played at Estacada and she faced several of her Thelo United teammates, the Rangers were determined to take her away, but she still scored three goals in a 5-0 win.

“They had a girl man-mark me the whole entire game,” Grim said. “She did a really good job doing it. They told her that she wasn’t allowed to touch the ball. She ran into her players, keeping her eyes on me.

“I’ve been man-marked for a few games now, just because of them knowing that I’m a scoring machine and I love scoring.”

It helps that Gladstone is loaded with skillful strikers, including sophomore Tori Vera, who has 24 goals this season.

“We’re lucky because Tori can create on her own as well,” Heuberger said. “All the credit to Rhyli for her accomplishments, but our top four or five attacking players are most likely the best in the state, at least at the 4A level. They all create their own chances and play together pretty well as a unit.”

Heuberger said that Grim’s high energy and “super bubbly personality” rubs off on her teammates. Grim’s positive mentality helps keep the team on task.

“She’s kind of like a goldfish. She makes a mistake and she forgets about it really quick, which is an awesome quality to have as a player,” Heuberger said. “She might miss a perfect opportunity, but she’s always hungry for it and doesn’t let it get to her.”

Grim, who has not committed to a college, expects to keep playing beyond high school. She has talked with Western Oregon and visited Lower Columbia College, but is hopeful to increase her options at college showcase events through the spring.

“I’m waiting to see what I can get,” said Grim, who plans to major in journalism and work as a sports announcer or coach.

Grim is hoping for a big finish to her high school career, not just to climb in the record books, but to capitalize on one last chance for a state championship.

As part of a senior nucleus that played on teams that took the No. 1 seed into the playoffs in 2019 and 2021 – only to lose in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively – she is extra motivated to go out on top.

“We know what we want to do,” Grim said. “We knew what we wanted to do last year, but I don’t think we worked as hard as this year. Having a new coach, I think she’s pushed us to be the best that we can be.”