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Timberwolves are looking to keep on getting better


Talented Tualatin team has high hopes for the 2013 season

by: DAN BROOD - TALENTED TIMBERWOLF -- Senior Luis Martinez (left), a first-team all-league pick last year, is back for the Timberwolves this season. TUALATIN — Sure, the Tualatin High School boys soccer team looks to have more than its share of talented, returning players.

And, yes, the Timberwolves had success last year.

But, as the 2013 season is getting underway, there’s one thing that seems to be more important than the rest to second-year Tualatin coach Jimmy Velasco.

“For me, the most important thing is that we keep getting better as the season goes on,” said Velasco, who was named the Pacific Conference Coach of the Year in 2012. “There will be hiccups, but I want to see improvement every time out.”

If that happens, Velasco says, it could be a very rewarding season for the Wolves.

“State is our goal,” he said.

Tualatin does boast a strong group of returning players from last year’s squad that tied for first place in the Pacific Conference standings at 6-1 while going 10-3-3 on the season.

Among those returning players is senior forward Luis Martinez. Last year, Martinez was a first-team All-Pacific Conference pick and second-team Class 6A All-State selection.

Senior returnee Madiba Sutton will be moving up to a forward spot this year.

“He’s a very fast player,” Velasco said.

Junior Javier Miranda could also see action in the front line, although he could also see time at wing or in the midfield.

“He’s our utility player,” Velasco said. “We can play him anywhere. That’s really going to help us out.”

Tualatin’s midfield will be led by senior returnees Cesar Perez and Cristian Silvestre.

The Wolves may be at their strongest when it comes to defense.

That stingy Tualatin defense includes senior returnee Sebastian Del Prete, who will be back at goalkeeper. Last year, Del Prete was a first-team all-conference selection and an honorable mention all-state pick.

Del Prete will have a talented core of defenders in front of him. That group includes senior Ryan Hyatt, senior Graham Fletcher, senior Jake Gellos and senior Edgar Ordonez.

Last year, Fletcher was a second-team all-league selection and Hyatt was an honorable mention all-league pick.

“I think we have pretty much our whole defense back,” Velasco said. “And we didn’t give up a lot of goals last year.”

Other players on the Tualatin varsity roster include sophomore goalkeeper Nick Van Kleek, sophomore Bryan Bello, senior David Bello, sophomore Austin Brown, sophomore Edwin Ayala, sophomore Michael Arellano, sophomore Alex Bruce, freshman Brandon Gillard, senior Nicholas Arellano and sophomore Michael Gillard.

“I think we have more depth this year,” Velasco said. “We had players improve with their work over the summer and fall and we have new faces stepping up. We have a lot of seniors returning, coming off a good season, and we’re continually going forward.

“We just keep building. Every game, there’s a new problem to solve.”

As for the Pacific Conference this season, Velasco isn’t sure what to expect, but that’s OK.

“I’m not too sure about the other teams,” he said. “I tell my kids that we have to worry about us.”

The Wolves opened their season last Thursday by scoring a 4-2 win over Centennial in a non-league match held at Tualatin High School.

Fletcher scored the first goal of the contest and Hyatt added three goals for the Wolves after that.

Tualatin will be back in action tonight (Thursday) when it plays at Cleveland in a non-league match starting at 7 p.m. at Cleveland High School.