Girls soccer: Woodburn offense comes alive in home opener
Following the Woodburn girls soccer team's season-opening 1-0 loss to the McNary Celtics on Aug. 29, assistant coach Caitlin Brennan described the team's offense as a bit of a work in progress.
The Bulldogs were held scoreless in the team's two home jamboree games the week before, and the team struggled to find consistent attacking lanes in the shutout loss against the 6A Celts.
"We're practicing some different formation, and I think we're learning how to use as much of the field as possible," Brennan said. "We kind of get caught up in the middle, so we've been really pushing our girls outside, which seems like a new concept to them."
It didn't take long for the lesson to sink in.
Woodburn's offense took a giant leap forward in the team's next game against The Dalles, defeating the visiting Riverhawks 7-0 in the Bulldogs' home-opener on Thursday. The victory was a strong coming out party for the Woodburn offense, led by senior forward Anahi Avila, who finished the game with two goals and two assists.
Unlike the loss to McNary (2-0), this time around, the Bulldogs were quick to establish offensive pressure against the Riverhawks. Woodburn scored twice in the opening 10 minutes of play on goals from junior Gadibel Jaquez and freshman Yahaira Rodriguez, each of which were assisted by Avila.
Junior midfielder Andrea Aguirre made it 3-0 in the 25th minute off an assist from fellow junior midfielder Bethsaida Cruz, and junior Nathalie Rios added one more goal in the 31st minute on a direct kick to give the Bulldogs a commanding 4-0 lead heading into the half.
After the break, it didn't take long for Woodburn to get right back to business. Rodriguez and Avila scored back-to-back goals in the first five minutes of the second half, both assisted by Jaquez. Avila added one more in the 61st minute on a pass from Rios to cap out the night at seven goals.
The final margin of victory was Woodburn's biggest since an 11-0 win over North Salem in 2014, but perhaps the more important stat was the lack of goals scored by the Riverhawks.
The shutout continued a streak of strong defensive play by Woodburn since the season-opening jamboree, and much of the credit goes to first-year goalkeeper Maddison Castro.
"She has never played goalie before," head coach Andrea Whiteman said. "She tried it out in a summer league game and I thought she knew what she was doing back there, which is hard to find — a keeper who is smart in the back."
Although the Bulldogs were held scoreless in their two jamboree games, they didn't give up any goals either, thanks in part to Castro's instincts in the net.
"She was a big reason why we ended with two 0-0 games," Whiteman said. "She was all over the place. She's very smart on when to come out, distributes the ball well."
The lone goal given up against the Celtics in the season opener was more of a fluke, with the ball ricocheting off the shinguards of a McNary player past the outstretched hands of Castro. In the second half, Castro made a number of big saves to keep the Bulldogs in the game, including back-to-back point-blank saves in the middle of the second half on strong scoring attempts.
"We threw her in to see what she could do, and she's been doing great," Whiteman said.
Woodburn's strong defensive showing in the first two games of the season and the jamboree has been a high-point through the first week of play and puts the Bulldogs in strong footing to be a playoff contender if the team's offense can maintain the consistency shown against The Dalles.
"Our defense is strong, which is a really good opportunity for us to work on our offense," Brennan said. "It will come together."
Woodburn (1-1) continues its non-conference slate this week at North Salem (0-1) on Thursday, followed by another road game at Milwaukie (1-0) on Sept. 13. The Bulldogs return home on Sept. 19 to host the McKay Scots (1-1).