Tiger boys soccer wants to bounce back
Trotting onto the pitch this season, the Newberg boys soccer team is hoping for a few more goals and a few less turned ankles. After an injury-plagued 2018 campaign, this season's squad – full of returners – hopes to post a better record and prove its mettle.
Coach Carlos Pehr's expectations are high for a group with only three seniors and a sizeable junior class.
"I'm thinking the sky is the limit for our team this year," Pehr said. "We dealt with a lot of serious injury issues with our players last year, which cost us some games. I think if we're healthy this year having brought back pretty much everyone, we can compete with anybody."
Nine juniors make up the bulk of Newberg's contributors. Nearly all of them are starters and they are led by second team all-conference midfielder Cristian Morales. Manny Arellano joins Morales in the midfield and Zach Macris pairs up with Aaron Johns at the center back positions – all of whom will play key roles on this year's team.
The Tigers' play style should be exciting and fun to watch, Pehr said.
"Our strengths this year are our ability to possess the ball, defend well and play to our midfield," he said. "We are looking to get to the goal right away."
Last season's schedule made for a difficult road, even without the injuries. With Newberg's starting goalkeeper hurt, along with a litany of other players across multiple positions, the team was never able to get in a consistent rhythm. That resulted in plenty of losses, Pehr said, that could very well have been draws or victories had the team been healthy.
This season presents a fresh start. After going 3-10-2 last season, being above .500 and possibly making the postseason are both within Newberg's sights. That journey begins with a home game against South Salem on Sept. 5, followed by a trio of difficult road games at Beaverton on Sept. 10, La Salle on Sept. 12 and at state champion Jesuit on Sept. 16.
Home games against Sunset, Southridge and Benson – along with a road game at Cleveland – round out a brutal non-league schedule before Pacific Conference play begins. The team is sure to have plenty of tests before it tries to finish near the top of its league, but Pehr is optimistic. The athleticism and speed displayed on both ends of the field should make for some fun soccer, and he hopes a relatively young group can gel quickly enough to compete and possibly beat its top tier opponents.
"It's going to be an exciting team to watch," Pehr said. "We have some extremely talented players and we're bringing in a couple freshmen who don't look or play like freshmen. We play natural soccer that is attack-minded, and it's going to be fun to watch."
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