High School Sports

Puyallup midfielder spent his sophomore year in a sling. His comeback was exceptional

In Puyallup’s second game of the 2018 season against Emerald Ridge, then-sophomore Logan Oyama went up for a challenge and landed hard and awkwardly on the turf, dislocating his shoulder.

Oyama remembers sitting in the emergency room that night, long after the adrenaline had worn off. His shoulder still hadn’t popped back in.

“They did some X-rays and they were going to put me to sleep to put it back in,” Oyama said. “I was in a lot of pain.”

Luckily, it popped back in on its own before it came to that. But the injury caused Oyama to miss nearly his entire sophomore season.

Healthy this year but wearing a shoulder-protecting sling under his jersey, Oyama wanted to make an impact. All he did was score 20 goals and 13 assists, and shined in the postseason. He scored eight goals and four assists, including the game-winning goal in the Class 4A state championship game against Mount Si, sealing the Vikings’ first state title.

He is The News Tribune’s All-Area boys soccer player of the year.

“The kid competes — as cliche as that might be,” said Puyallup coach Matt White. “He’s going to try to win whatever he’s doing.”

White first noticed that competitiveness during a game in Oyama’s freshman year, when he was playing as a holding midfielder for the Vikings. Oyama chased down the opponent’s fastest player from 20, 30 yards out.

“The whole bench just went, ‘Whoa,’ ” White said. “None of us knew he had that extra gear. It seems like he’s playing at one speed and then just — boom. He’s by you in a step.”

This season, Oyama thrived as an attacking midfielder, sitting below forward Craig Johnson in the formation.

“His body control is special,” White said. “He has such great body control, strength on the ball. He’s insanely strong and insanely fast. He has good vision, he’s a good passer and he attacks into space.”

And in the postseason, on the biggest stage, Oyama played his best soccer.

“It’s mostly a mental thing, knowing these are must-win games,” he said. “Just thinking before the game, ‘I know they can’t stop us as a team.’ So just being able to go out there and put goals in the back of the net.”

After every game, White leads the players in a post-match huddle and asks the players to acknowledge which of their teammates played a good game.

It’s gotten to the point where White has to preface it with an exception.

“I have to say, ‘Can we just start everyone off just by saying how hard Logan worked and then move on to other people?’” White said. “We’re always going to start with Logan. His teammates just recognize that he’s going to work so hard. … He’s diligent, he works hard. He’s gracious, he gives credit to his teammates.”

Oyama is also a 3.99 grade-point average student: the A-minus he received in a freshman year algebra class is a running joke from his teammates and coaches. He is talking with Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Portland to continue his soccer career after his senior year.

In the state championship game against Mount Si, Oyama scored the game-winning goal on a free kick in the 77th minute — a screamer into the top right corner of the goal. After the way he had played in the postseason, it was only fitting Oyama would be the one to score such a dramatic goal.

“He didn’t just sort of hit it — that kind of hit is something you see from professional players in goal-of-the-year kind of things,” White said. “That was a ripper.”

As he ran toward the jam-packed sideline at Sparks Stadium after scoring that goal with several hundred fans screaming and cheering the Vikings on, Oyama knew he — and his team — had done something special.

“The guys on this team, we all love soccer,” he said. “But not everyone is a big soccer supporter. I think it opened everyone’s eyes to the fact that we’re here. It was special to see all our guys enjoying it and being recognized. Sharing it with the community was a big part of it. We love the support of our fans.”

Oyama will have one more high school season. He’s already ready for another deep postseason run.

“We had a very good season this year,” he said. “Ultimately, we’re already talking about going back-to-back. We have a lot of hope and trust that we can do it. So that’s the next step, being able to follow it up and show that it wasn’t a fluke.”