HILLSBORO – A year ago, Abdoulie Jallow was living in Gambia, West Africa, in a world far removed from Oregon high school soccer.
Saturday, the McKay junior became the center of attention after scoring two goals to lead the Royal Scots past West Albany 2-1 in the final of the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 5A final at Hillsboro Stadium.
Jallow gave McKay a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute by beating the goalkeeper one-on-one, then broke a 1-1 tie in the 53rd minute by converting an assist from junior Miguel Garcia.
Jallow scored 16 goals to help lead the second-seeded Royal Scots (17-0) to an undefeated season and their first state championship. For Jallow and his brother, junior defender Musa, the season was a surreal and rewarding experience.
“This is my first year for McKay. I think I brought them here,” Abdoulie said. “It’s amazing. I’m very, very proud of myself.”
After making the 6A second round last year, McKay dropped down to 5A and got a jolt with the addition of the Jallow brothers. The Royal Scots cruised to the Mid-Willamette Conference title, beating West Albany 3-0 along the way.
“Just that fire and energy, honestly,” McKay coach Juan Llamas said of the Jallow brothers. “You see them walking around the school, it’s different. Kids love Musa and Abdoulie, just kind of the leadership that they bring to the field. The boys kind of feed off that.”
Saturday’s win was the exclamation point on a season in which McKay outscored its opponents 55-4. The Royal Scots earned their spot in the final by knocking out reigning 5A champion La Salle Prep in overtime in the semifinals, getting a tying goal from junior Cesar Velasquez with five seconds left in regulation.
Has Llamas thought about how McKay would have fared in 6A this season?
“The thought’s there,” Llamas said. “I know McNary is right across, and that would’ve been a great game to see because they were undefeated for conference, and we were undefeated. I tell the boys, I feel like we have the best team in the state, and I’m not going to back down from that. Anybody that wants to play, we’ll play.”
No. 5 West Albany (12-4-2), which had never won a playoff game until this season, was left to ponder the narrow defeat.
“We went in thinking we were going to win,” West Albany senior forward Jack Date said. “We knew we were the better team, but it happens. We just fell asleep in the back. We weren’t as awake as we normally are.”
The Bulldogs came ready to make amends for losing to McKay in the conference match, but Abdoulie Jallow’s first goal helped set the tone. He took the ball about 25 yards from the goal, evaded two defenders to within about eight yards out and struck a shot over the shoulder of West Albany junior goalkeeper Carter McGowan.
“I’ve been trying to score that kind of goal, but it was very hard,” Abdoulie Jallow said. “For me to score that, I think today was my first time to score that.”
West Albany didn’t take long to respond. Two minute later, Bulldogs junior Henry Catlin struck a penalty kick inside the left post to make it 1-1.
But McKay controlled much of the play throughout, and finally broke through in the 53rd minute when Garcia controlled the ball deep in the box and sent a centering pass back to Abdoulie Jallow, who knocked it in from about five yards out.
Llamas liked Abdoulie Jallow’s aggressive mentality. In practice Friday, Llamas made a point of telling him and junior forward David Garcia to come out firing.
“If you look at his previous games, sometimes he doesn’t shoot,” Llamas said.
The go-ahead goal stood up for the win for McKay as the defense kept the heat off senior goalkeeper Diego Garibay the rest of the way.
The victory set off a wild celebration for the Royal Scots. McKay’s only other state titles were co-championships in boys track and girls tennis in 1986 and in dance in 1999.
“It means a lot,” said Garibay, the conference player of the year. “At the start of the season, we didn’t believe, but after the league, we started believing in ourselves. It feels amazing. Bringing it back home for the first time, state final, champs, honestly incredible.”
The raucous support from the crowd helped spur the Royal Scots.
“It got us fired up a lot,” Garibay said. “The other team was talking smack, and that fired us up more. We’ve got to prove them wrong.”
Said Llamas: “You could definitely tell it was a McKay atmosphere. It’s exciting. The community deserves this. It’s for everybody.”
Considering Garibay was the only senior starter for McKay in the final, the immediate future is bright for the Royal Scots.
As for West Albany, the Bulldogs believe they have raised the bar for their program with the breakthrough season.
“It steps up the level of how the next generation of West Albany players are going to have to step up to,” Date said. “They’re going to have to come in knowing we made it to the finals, and we need to do it again.”