Bourque scores three goals to lead Wildcats past St. Helens

by: GREG ARTMAN / FILE - Sam Parker (22) has played an integral role in the Wilsonville boys soccer team's success this year. His efforts as a defender have allowed Timmy Bourque to move into an attacking position.Even with the No. 2 ranking in Class 5A, the Wilsonville boys soccer team still feels it has something to prove.

Perhaps that’s because its success so far this year has come despite lowered expectations — from beyond the program, anyway — in the wake of the graduation of 10 seniors, the loss of Portland Timbers academy recruit Rene Hernandez and the departure of all-league midfielder Jasper Samatowic.

“We’re pretty surprised,” senior Timmy Bourque said. “But we know we’re a good team. A lot of the graduated kids are surprised, too. I think they’re a little upset about it. Our whole mentality has just been that we’re the underdogs.”

On the field, the Wildcats’ recent performances have indicated otherwise. Since losing 5-1 to Hillsboro in nonconference play at home Sept. 24, they have reeled off three victories in a row as they vie for a league title.

They snagged a 3-2 road win over fifth-ranked Hood River Valley, the team that ousted them in the playoffs last year. They used a dominant first half to defeat Liberty 4-2 in their league opener at home Oct. 3, their first triumph against the Falcons since 2009. And they notched a season-high in goals during a 5-0 shutout of St. Helens on the road a week later.

Entering its Oct. 15 matchup at home against Sandy, Wilsonville (6-3, 2-0 in the Northwest Oregon Conference) was tied with Parkrose atop the league standings. Its only losses have come at the hands of Cleveland — the No. 3 team in Class 5A — and two 6A opponents in Tigard and Hillsboro.

In the recent victory against struggling St. Helens (0-8, 0-2), the Wildcats were forced to adjust their playing style on a wet grass field that had recently been used for a football game.

“It was super-muddy, and that kind of neutralizes any type of skill,” said Bourque, whose team is accustomed to playing on turf. “So basically what we did was place the ball in the corner of the 18-yard box and go from there. The ball wouldn’t roll — it just dropped dead. So we tried to do that and scored a couple times doing that. It was a lot of over-the-top stuff.”

Bourque continued his stellar season with a hat trick against the Lions.

On his first goal, he finished a cross by Alex Roberts on a header. On his second goal, he put away a through ball from Jason Johnson. And he capped his scoring effort by placing Tyler Martin’s free kick in the back of the net.

An all-league defender last year, Bourque has moved up to become an integral piece of Wilsonville’s offense this season.

“That’s pretty much my permanent position now,” he said.

Bourque said he’s been able to play at forward at least in part because of the efforts of Sam Parker.

“Sam has really grown into sweeper,” Bourque said. “He knows what he’s doing. He’s playing really well. We’re basically man-marking with our outside backs, and he’s able to keep everything organized.”

Thanks to Parker, goalkeeper Quinn Everts and others, the Wildcats defense had given up just 13 goals through nine games.

Of course, how Wilsonville builds on its recent winning streak remains to be seen. The program, which reached the 5A quarterfinals last year, earned runner-up honors in 2002 but has never won a state title. As of Oct. 10, it was ranked behind one team: three-time defending state champion Woodburn.

The Wildcats, though, don’t want to get ahead of themselves. They’re not even halfway through their conference schedule.

“We know teams want to knock us off,” Bourque said. “But we feel like we want to knock them off.”

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