Newberg boys soccer entered its contest against the Thurston/Mohawk Colts on Wednesday with a 1-3-1 record, identical to their 5A opponent. After 80 minutes of play the two teams wound up with identical records once again after playing to a 3-3 draw.
While Newberg is still trying to grow into the vision it has for itself, the Tigers showed grit late in a game that coach Anthony Trejo hopes can build into something for long-term success. According to Trejo, expecting the best is square one and it's what he's been working on.
"The expectation that when you step on the pitch, you're expecting to win, you're not expecting to play hard and hopefully win," Trejo said after the game. "I think you change the mindset of the program first, and for us it's just playing hard and competing and being a strong defensive-minded team. If you stop the other team from scoring goals, you're going to have a good chance to win a lot of games. Tonight, it was back and forth and there's just a lot of little things you have to fix."
The little things to fix stem from that defensive mindset Trejo mentioned. One of Thurston's three goals came off a corner kick set piece: Thurston sophomore Nano Martinez sent the ball off his back heel into the net.
Another small mistake came after a Newberg foul in the box with less than eight minutes remaining in the game, resulting in a Thurston penalty kick to put the Colts up ahead 3-2.
Despite the setbacks, Newberg battled the entirety of the game. Newberg senior Thomas Rahkola put the ball away to score the team's first goal of the night at 24:45 of the second half. Senior forward Eli McIntyre got the go-ahead goal a little more than a minute later.
As time wound down McIntyre crashed the Thurston box to draw the foul and senior Osvaldo Fonseca put the ball away to ensure the 3-3 draw. In addition, sophomore goalkeeper Owen Williams made several impressive saves to keep Thurston from pulling ahead.
Trejo said he believes his team could have optimized more looks in the attacking third and will look to improve there as the team finishes up its non-league schedule.
"It's knowing how to play together, seeing space and play the ball, let your athletes and soccer players run," Trejo said. "Sometimes we want to hold onto it until we see the run, we get caught dribbling. It's that mindset of trusting someone else to do their job. It starts with you doing your job."
Newberg (1-3-2) has two more chances to fix the little things ahead of Pacific Conference play. The Tigers square off against Nelson (1-3-1) on the road Sept. 26, then host Oregon City (2-3) on Sept. 29.
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