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With eight freshmen and sophomores, the future is bright for a Vikings team getting better by the day.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove's Mirella Garcia chases down a ball wih Century's Aubrey Hoffman during the Vikings' game against Century Tuesday, March 16 at Forest Grove High School.The Forest Grove girls soccer team defeated Century of Hillsboro 3-1 Tuesday night, March 16, at Forest Grove High School to improve their record to 2-3 on the season. But while intent to compete on a daily and nightly basis, this team is building towards what could be a few very good years for a young Vikings team learning the ropes.

"We're very young, but we're very talented," Forest Grove head coach Ignacio Olvera said, "And we have some very good regiments coming up."

The Vikings roster consists of just four seniors, Mirella Garcia, Megan Turner, Averie Lindekugel, and Jacqueline Garcia Bucio, while boasting eight freshmen and sophomores. It's that youth that has Olvera excited not only about this season's prospects, but the prospects for the team going forward, as soon as next Fall.

"What I've been telling our group is that we're going to use this season to get ready for next year," Olvera said. "That doesn't mean we're not going to compete. We're still going to push ourselves to the next level because our goal for next year is to make the playoffs."

Despite the wealth of freshmen and sophomores, the Vikings are led by center back Makaila Takahashi. The junior was a first team all-league player for the Viks last season and Olvera is giving her even more responsibility on this year's team. The coach said Takahashi is solid on the defensive end, but that due to her ability beyond that he's asking her to get involved on the attack.

"I like to challenge my players," he said. "We want her attacking and creating opportunities for the girls on top."

PMG FILE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Forest Grove's Makaila Takahashi during a Vikings game last season.One of those players "on top" is freshman striker Elise Broberg. Olvera said that even at her young age she's shown the ability to get around older and bigger players, and coupled with senior captain Mirella Garcia, the coach said they've created quite a one-two punch for opposing teams to try and combat.

"Those two have been playing really well, so that makes a really good duo up on top."

One of the challenges thus far for Coach Olvera has been fitness. With the pandemic limiting practices and get-togethers for much of the last year, and with some of his girls opting-out of this season due to safety concerns tied to COVID-19, he said it's been difficult to keep a fresh product on the field. There have been games this year in which the coach said they only had two substitutes, so at times they've been worn down over the course of a game.

"I feel like if we were in better shape we probably would have another win," Olvera said. "Sometimes with only two subs I don't have the ability to get those starters five or 10 minute breaks."

After starting the season with losses to Mountainside and Newberg, Olvera said he's been impressed with how much his team has improved. He's also said he's been even more impressed with how the girls compete in practice to get better.

"One of the nice things about this group is that they love to compete," he said. "You should see them compete at practice, and that's what makes a good soccer player and good athlete."

That type of attitude has allowed them to be competitive with even the state's best teams, like Sherwood. The Vikings lost to the Bowmen 5-1, but Olvera said the first half was very competitive and really the game just got away from them as a result of their fitness deficiencies. He added that this group really plays well together, and ultimately it's that effort and style that will make them something to watch in the years to come.

"We make some mistakes, but we're learning," Olvera said. "I'm pleased with what I'm seeing and there's a very bright future for this group."

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