He takes over at the small Portland school due to a change in his day job and leads the Mavericks to the OSAA quarterfinals.

When Mark Madeira took the helm of the Portland-Riverdale boys soccer team before this season, he knew expectations would be high.

The program, after all, won its first-ever state championship in 2012 to cap a phenomenal 16-2 season.

And although the Mavericks graduated nine seniors from that standout squad, they found a groove this year under the former Canby coach.

Riverdale’s season came to an end with a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Medford-St. Mary’s in the Class 3A/2A/1A quarterfinals Nov. 9 at Lewis & Clark College in Portland. It was the team’s first setback of the season.

The Mavericks won all nine of their league games, clinching a conference title with a road win over Oregon Episcopal in their regular-season finale, entered the playoffs with a 12-0 record and earned the top seed in the small-school playoffs. They crushed Gervais 6-0 in the first round.

“Expectations were high,” said Madeira, whose team had amassed 45 goals through 13 games. “However, I did not expect our year to go quite like this. When I arrived, I knew that we had some talented players and good athletes, similar to Canby.

“The biggest contributing factor has been the kids. They have bought into the tactics and skills we have been giving them. They continue to work hard every single day.”

Madeira said Riverdale’s success came in part because of its commitment to defense. Through 13 games, his team had given up just eight goals while tallying eight shutouts.

“The kids have worked extremely hard and are very proud about their defensive effort,” he said. “The kids’ effort defensively is a major contribution to our success, and they take pride in that.”

Leaving Canby

For Madeira, a 2002 alumnus of Canby High School, it wasn’t easy leaving the Canby boys soccer program.

It was the one he played for in high school. It was the one he spent three years trying to refurbish as its head coach.

But after the 2012 season, when he began working for a different company in his life away from soccer, Madeira felt he had no choice but to leave his alma mater.

“If I was going to continue at Canby, I was going to have to miss quite a bit of time from my day job,” he said. “I decided that I needed to find a coaching position that was closer to my current employer if I wanted to continue coaching.”

Madeira researched several openings, including the vacancy at Riverdale left by outgoing coach Tendu Sherpa. It looked like a good fit on paper, so he applied. He was later called in for an interview with school athletic director Rob Pridemore, two team moms and two current players.

“As soon as I walked in the room, I felt like I belonged with them,” Madeira said. “We shared similar values and views. Our ideas about the responsibilities of the coach, parents and players were the same.

“Their program had recent success, but they were looking for someone to continue the path it was on and grow further. I thought this was a good challenge and accepted. Although it was tough to leave Canby, the transition has been smooth. My experience with Riverdale has been tremendous. The school has been great to work with, the student-athletes are very hard workers, and the community support is wonderful.”

A small advantage

As Madeira has come to realize over the last few months, the Canby and Riverdale boys soccer programs are inherently different.

The Mavericks are drawing from a significant smaller talent pool — they have only a few hundred students enrolled, whereas Canby’s student population tops 1,500.

But Riverdale’s relative tininess has been a boon in terms of team chemistry.

“The team chemistry while I was at Canby was good,” said Madeira, who led the Cougars to the Class 6A playoffs in each of his three seasons but failed to advance past the first round. “But (at Riverdale), being at a small school, the kids are able to get to know each other on a more personal level, which in turn brings them together and is reflected on the field.”

The disparity in school sizes has also manifested itself in the junior-varsity ranks.

Although Madeira believes the varsity-level soccer at his current school is similar in caliber to what it was in the 6A world — “(it’s) still just as physical, the kids are just as athletic and the game is still just as technical,” he said — he acknowledges that the sheer numbers are lacking in the developmental levels.

At Canby, Madeira had as many as 75 student-athletes come out for a given tryout; at Riverdale, that figure was closer to 40. Still, he said, assistant coach Jake Biskar — also from Canby — has made great strides with the JV team at Riverdale.

“He knew he had some major things to teach these kids, and he rose to the occasion and did a terrific job,” Madeira said.

Lessons learned

For Madeira, who played soccer at Pacific University, his tenure at Canby was instrumental in his growth as a coach.

Along with assistants Todd Gienger, John Vredenburg and John Madeira, he did his best to change the culture of a Cougars program that had missed the playoffs in six of the eight seasons between his senior season (2001) and the start of his coaching tenure.

And he learned many lessons of his own along the way.

“My time at Canby was well-spent,” he said. “The lessons I learned at Canby I take with me everywhere, not just in soccer. The biggest lesson I learned was to persevere and continue to push on no matter how bleak the task looks. When I took over at Canby, the boys program was not in a good place. There was a large amount of work that needed to be done on and off the field.”

Madeira said he was thankful for the support he received from former athletic director Dennis Burke and current athletic director Jim Smith. He also enjoyed having girls coaches Ben Winegar and Alex Frixione as colleagues.

“Working with the girls program ... was a major asset,” he said. “The girls program was stable and in a great place, and they provided a great model for where I wanted the boys program to be.”




2010: 6-7-2 (3-5-2 in the TRL); lost 6-1 to McMinnville in the first round

2011: 4-7-4 (3-3-4 in the TRL); lost 6-1 to Portland-Westview in the first round

2012: 4-9-2 (4-5-1 in the TRL); lost 4-0 to Central Catholic in the first round

Totals: 14-23-8 (10-13-7 in the TRL); three playoff appearances

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