Portland Timbers U-23 team returns to Camas Friday

A warm welcome

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Nicholas Hamer (far left) joins in the celebration after providing the asisst on the decisive goal scored by Mark Sherrod. The Portland Timbers U-23 team defeated Washington Crossfire 1-0 Friday, in front of an estimated crowd of 2,056 fans at Doc Harris Stadium in Camas.

An estimated 2,056 soccer fans filled Doc Harris Stadium in Camas to cheer the Portland Timbers U-23 Premier Development League team to a 1-0 victory against Washington Crossfire of Redmond Friday.

The Camas-Washougal Soccer Club hosted the game as a featured attraction for its Clash at the Border soccer tournament. The majority of the spectators were from the youth soccer teams playing in the weekend long festival.

“The club, town and the facility did itself very proud by hosting this game,” said Timbers U-23 head coach Jim Rilatt. “It’s a real kick for these guys to be able to play in front of so many kids. They love to stay after the games are over to sign autographs and talk to the kids about soccer. It’s a summer they will never forget.”

The back-and-forth physical contest surpassed the 60-minute mark without a score. All that changed in the 69th-minute, when forward Mark Sherrod headed a cross from midfielder Nicholas Hamer into the net to give the Timbers a 1-0 lead with about 20 minutes left in the game.

“It was one of the best crosses I hit in my whole life,” said Hamer, who had just entered the game as a substitute. “You just work as hard as you can to make that one difference. Sometimes, it pays off.”

Standing at 6 feet, 3 inches, Sherrod is a formidable target for headers in the box. He said passes don’t come more “perfect” than the ball delivered to him by Hamer on that goal.

“What made it so perfect is that it was just a one touch. That gives the defense no time to react,” Sherrod said. “I love playing with these guys every day. It’s not a job to me, it’s a dream. It’s what I love to do.”

Hamer and Sherrod both rushed to the sidelines to celebrate the goal with their teammates, right in front of the screaming Camas fans.

“Once you score a goal like that, the crowd just goes wild. It’s an awesome feeling,” Hamer said. “It means the world to us to be able to play in front of these kids. If they are excited to see us, hopefully that encourages them to keep playing this game. They’re the next generation.”

This win helped Portland (9-4-2) clinch the third playoff spot in the Northwest Division. For just a group of individuals getting together this summer, Rilatt loves watching the way these Timbers celebrate their accomplishments.

“It shows a lot about their character,” he said. “These guys have made a lot of sacrifices to get here, and they are finding their sacrifices to be worthwhile.”

Rilatt thanked the younger soccer players for attending the game and cheering their hearts out for the Timbers. He also had some words of wisdom.

“Whether it’s the adversity of the officiating or the style of play of the other team, you can rise above it,” he said. “If you are confident in yourself, if you believe in your teammates and you come to battle, you’ll get the result you want in the end.”