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The Vikings struggle in playoff opener, but Abraham Alvarez' late goal pushes them to the second round.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove defenseman David Mata battles a David Douglas player during the Vikings' first round playoff game  against the Scots Saturday, Nov. 2, at Forest Grove High School.So it begins.

After last year's heartbreaking state semifinal overtime loss to Jesuit, this year's Vikings boys soccer team is ready to take another shot at what amounted to a successful but ultimately failed attempt at an elusive state championship, and they got that run started with a 1-0 first round win over David Douglas this past Saturday, Nov. 2, at Forest Grove High School.

In the wake of a scoreless and somewhat evenly played first half, the Vikings finally capitalized on what was one of a number of second half opportunities when sophomore forward Abraham Alvarez netted the game's only goal with 10 minutes remaining, relieving what was becoming a high level of tension amongst the coaches, players, and fans of the No. 5-ranked Viks.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove's Abraham Alvarez fights for a loose ball during the Vikings' first round playoff game against David Douglas Saturday, Nov. 2, at Forest Grove High School."It felt amazing," Alvarez said. "I felt like we deserved to score there, and it was fun to celebrate with my teammates."

Forest Grove head coach Gracey Mosquera was obviously pleased with the outcome, but at the same time seemed to feel a bit fortunate to have won despite failing to play at a level to which he's become accustomed.

"It was a tough playoff game," Mosquera said. "Everything that you've done before doesn't matter, but at the end of the day the only objective is to go through. I think there are a lot of things to correct, but the opponent also is a factor in that.

"It was tied with just 10 minutes left, and I thought the guys handled the pressure pretty well and were able to come out and get a win."

The Vikings weren't devoid of opportunities to take control of the game, and in the first half simply seemed hesitant in the midst of those chances. A handful of times in the opening 40 minutes, Forest Grove forwards relaxed with one-on-one openings, waiting for help opposed to aggressively attacking the defender and the goal.

"I talked to the guys in the first half because we were being reactive rather than proactive," Mosquera said. "There were a lot of balls in the middle and David Douglas were being the aggressor and getting balls."

His "talk" must've worked because Forest Grove came out far more aggressive in the second half, and created a number of different looks leading up to Alvarez' goal.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove's Abraham Alvarez dribbles hard up the field during the Vikings' first round playoff game  against David Douglas Saturday, Nov. 2, at Forest Grove High School.Sophomore defenseman Elvis Sayago narrowly missed on an open header, hitting the cross bar just four minutes into the second stanza, and then misfiring again on a second quality look four minutes later. Senior forward Pablo Dominguez whiffed on a header five minutes after that, and in the 67th minute, it was David Douglas who was faced with an opportunity, erring just wide with a header of their own in an attempt to draw first blood.

It wasn't until Alvarez found the left side of the David Douglas net that Mosquera and his team could breathe easy, and with the goal and the eventual win in the rearview mirror, the coach said it wasn't about how they played, but rather about regrouping and looking forward as their playoff run continues.

"It's a process," he said. "Even if we would've dominated the opponent tonight, things can change very fast in this game and that's why it is the most beautiful game. You can control the game and still lose it, so I'm happy with the guys because we got the win.

"It's not easy and we're going forward, and we'll fix the stuff we didn't do well today and hopefully play better next game."

And Alvarez? He didn't seem deterred by the nail-biting victory, but rather confident in his team and their prospects, primarily due to their experience and preparation.

"I was a little nervous, but last year we won in the playoffs, so I wasn't too nervous," Alvarez said. "I'm very confident in the team. We've been practicing a very long time and every day we're getting better."

Forest Grove is scheduled to play Central Catholic in the playoffs' second round at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Forest Grove High School.


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