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Sophomore notches career high as Wildcats extend unbeaten streak

by: JEFF GOODMAN - Garrett Bonnell (right) scored four goals to lead the Wilsonville boys soccer team in a rout of Putnam on the road Oct. 22.MILWAUKIE — Garrett Bonnell was only wearing his left cleat as he and his Wilsonville boys soccer teammates jogged from their bench to the opposite sideline and back to warm down after defeating Putnam on the road Oct. 23.

Perhaps his right foot still needed time to cool off.

The sophomore erupted for a career-high four goals in the first half, igniting the Wildcats in a 6-2 scorching of the defending league champion Kingsmen at Foelker Field.

“I guess I was just on,” Bonnell said. “I just finished. Their defense was getting spread out, so it was just finding the gaps and going through.”

Bonnell tied the record for single-game production in coach Ian Reschke’s 12-year tenure, matching the quartet of goals that Nick Pinto scored in the program’s 2011 win at St. Helens.

Bonnell’s stellar performance was also part of a season high in offensive production for Wilsonville, which earned its most prolific scoring effort since its 7-1 road win over Sandy last year.

Perhaps most importantly, the Wildcats (8-3-1, 4-0-1 in the Northwest Oregon Conference) took one step closer to their first league title in nearly a decade as they gear up for the Class 5A state playoffs.

Last year, Wilsonville fell to Putnam in overtime and ended up placing second in the conference standings behind the Kingsmen. This season, it still controls its own destiny in the NWOC race.

“That’s what we keep telling the guys,” Reschke said. “If they want a league title, awesome. It’s up to them. If they can win out, they’ve got it. From a coaching perspective, I’m looking a little bit beyond that into the postseason, but it would be nice for these guys. It’s been a long time. We’re due.”

The Wildcats have put themselves in good position. Entering an Oct. 24 home game against Parkrose, they had gone unbeaten in six-consecutive games. Indeed, since losing to Hillsboro at home Sept. 24, they have logged a record of 5-0-1 and outscored their six opponents by a combined tally of 21-8.

Much of Wilsonville’s surging offense has come off the head and feet of senior Timmy Bourque, an all-league defender last year who is now playing primarily at forward. Bourque put away game-winning goals in preseason wins over North Salem and Stayton, and he logged a hat trick Oct. 10 in the Wildcats’ shutout of St. Helens.

And as Bourque demands additional attention from opposing defenses, Bonnell and others are finding a little extra room to roam.

“Timmy and I have good chemistry up top, and we know how to find each other’s feet,” Bonnell said. “He opens up space for me. When we find him, he’ll flick it over to me where there’s nobody else.”

Bonnell scored his first goal on a close-range shot in the 8th minute, and Bourque found the back of the net from the right side just 2 minutes later to give Wilsonville an early 2-0 lead.

Putnam (4-7-1, 2-2-1) responded with two goals in the next 10 minutes. Junior midfielder Oscar Gutierrez engineered a shot around advancing Wildcats goalkeeper Quinn Everts in the 15th minute, and senior midfielder Elliot Bixby tied the match at 2-2 on a penalty kick in the 20th minute.

Then Bonnell took over.

He scored the go-ahead goal on a chip shot around Kingsmen goalkeeper Jesse Martinez in the 25th minute, finished a pass from Bourque five minutes later and gave Wilsonville a commanding 5-2 lead in the 33rd minute, taking a pass from a double-teamed Bourque and zipping a grounder past Martinez.

With the ball resting at his feet in the 36th minute, Bonnell eyed the field and considered his options from a spot near the left sideline in Putnam territory.

“Get on him!” Putnam junior Luka Hartwig shouted, directing his teammates from the midfield. “Don’t just stand there!”

But Bonnell had already done plenty of damage.

Bonnell, who has played soccer since he was 6 years old, earned varsity minutes in nonconference play as a freshman last year and has been a regular starter as a midfielder or forward for the Wildcats this season.

“We need a cool finisher, and if it’s not Timmy then it’s Garrett right now,” Reschke said. “They’ve got the finishing touch. Hat’s off to (Bonnell). It was a great individual performance. At the same time he was pretty unselfish, playing the ball around. When he shares the ball like he did (against the Kingsmen), he’s gonna get a lot of the rewards on the other end of things.

“He’s a utility guy. We can put him up front if that’s where we need him, or we can have him as a center mid. It’s nice to have a guy like that to put wherever you need him. ... I knew that his experience early on in the high school season last year would pay off starting this season. And it has.”

Thanks in part to Bonnell, Wilsonville has manufactured regular offense despite losing Pinto, who is now on the roster at Pacific University, and Portland Timbers academy player Rene Hernandez. Pinto and Hernandez were the team’s two leading scorers last year.

“It’s been more of a team effort this season,” Reschke said. “Those guys had great individual talent, but sometimes when (your offense focuses) on one player, it can be easy to shut down. It can be very predictable — regardless of how talented a player is. By having several players with an offensive threat and creating combinations, it’s hard to shut that down. You have to pick your poison.”

In the 79th minute, junior Jason Johnson scored the final goal of the game on a spectacular long-distance strike from the left side.

As for how far the Wildcats can take their evolving attack, Bonnell sounded confident.

“I think we have a chance to win state this year — I really do,” he said. “We beat Hood River (Valley), and they’re one of the best teams in the state, so I don’t see why we can’t.”

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