Boys soccer team had a difficult season, but look to grow
At the beginning of the 2017 season, Wilsonville looked to repeat their 2016 success in the post season. Last year, the Wildcats made it all the way to the state championships and lost 1-0 against the number two ranked Woodburn. This year the team came up short in the long run, finishing their season 2-5 in league play and 4-8 overall.
For head coach Ian Reschke, some of the adversity came from a rough beginning of the season with upperclassmen gone and games nixed due to environmental concerns.
"Losing a good number of seniors from last year we knew we'd lost a lot of offensive fire power," Reschke said. "There were some unknowns. We had some strong returners as well. We were hopeful going into this season. Once the first couple of games hit and we start off 0-2, then we really start questioning ourselves as coaching staff and players who were just not used to starting off 0-2. It had never happened. That was a new experience for us, and a growth opportunity for us as well."
The team missed two of their preseason games due to the smoke hazard from wild fires that were happening in late August and early September. In those lost games, some crucial time to get looks at players and figure out where players fit was lost.
"I talked to my coaches about that, and we could use those two games," Reschke said. "Those extra two games gives us a few more looks and we get maybe a better sense of our core group a couple of games sooner than we did this year. This year had a very similar feel to last year where we didn't have all the pieces together until about three or four games left in the league season, and that's when we started making our run last year. And who knows, maybe we do figure things out a couple games sooner because of those games. So, yeah, it definitely hurt us on experience minutes."
Coming out of the season one of the takeaways was that in a void of power strikers, players were needed to step up. In junior defender Henry Tellez, the Wildcats found a person who could put a ball in the back of the net. Still, more were needed to step up, and that will be something the coaching staff focus on heading into next season.
"We've got a great team of possession players, guys that can play possession on the ground, that can play good defense, but what's lacking in the final third for us is that hunger to score, that heart," Reschke said. "We saw it a couple of times and a couple instances where guys got hungry for a short burst but we need that consistently from more players inside their box. That's really what we lacked. Some of that can be coached up, but a lot of that is just you're a born striker and you've got a nose for goals."
Still, despite the frustrations of the season, there were bright spots in the season. One of them came in the form of freshman Eliab Bautista.
"Midseason I take a look at him, he's looking pretty decent," Reschke said. "So we pull him up for one of those varsity games, and he showed well. He played for a half, and it's like, 'You're showing, you earned a start.' He pretty much started the rest of the way, from the La Salle game on as I recall. If anybody stood out, it was Eliab."
One memory from that Reschke takes away from the season is the showing his beleaguered team put forth against the higher ranked Parkrose.
"As an overall experience, the Parkrose game was an awesome experience," Reschke said. "It was like going back to childhood, playing in the grass, in the rain, sliding around. It was a competitive game. I think our team going in went in very loose, with no expectations because they're going up against a Parkrose team that's in second or third place, an undefeated team. And here we are at seventh, missing Henry and (sophomore) Ryan (McCord), two potential all league players.
"There's just this momentum of excitement going on the bench. I turned around and I and said, 'Well who cares at this point what the record is? These guys are having fun, enjoying it.' Henry, our team captain who's injured, is leading the charge. He's on the sideline cheering guys on and having a great time. That's one big memory that stood out, and I told them at the end of the game, 'That was the best 1-0 loss that I've ever been involved with.'"
At the end of the season, Reschke was proud of his team for sticking together. Despite the record, and negative goal differential, they stuck it out and played as a unit until the very end, and he let them know after they defeated Milwaukie 4-1.
"The last game we're all circled at the halfway line, and just let everybody know I was proud of the effort, I am sorry that we as coaches couldn't do more for you, and I'm sorry we didn't have another game to play and we didn't make the playoffs," Reschke said. "But I appreciated their effort and their attitude. It was commendable under difficult and frustrating circumstances. It was probably more of a frustrating season than anything. But just a great group of guys. Nine senior that are leaving. They might not all have contributed at the same level, but they contributed to the team atmosphere and the gelling of the team, and I'm going to miss every one of them."