Girls soccer: Woodburn claims memorable draw
Sports culture is full of clichés. Everyone gives 110 percent and takes seasons one game at a time. Defense wins championships, but the best defense is a good offense.
Those rote sayings sometimes come with more than a grain of truth to them as the Woodburn girls soccer team learned in a 2-2 draw against the No. 5 Stayton Eagles on Oct. 10.
After leading 1-0 throughout much of the game against the league-leading Eagles, the Bulldogs found themselves down 2-1 after Stayton scored what appeared to be the game-winning goal with under two minutes left to play.
But the Bulldogs never gave up, not even in the final seconds when senior Betsi Cruz lofted a desperation shot from 45 yards out with five seconds left in the contest. The ball fell well short of the goal, but close enough to sophomore forward Yahaira Rodriguez, who had charged ahead when Cruz kicked the ball, met it inside the keeper box and kicked it into the far side of the net as the game clock read 0:00.
"We've been working with them on just following the ball through and never giving up on the ball, and I think our underclassmen really exemplify that," Woodburn head coach Andrea Whiteman said. "They never give up on the ball, and Yaheira showed that."
It was a shocking conclusion to an already shocking game. The Eagles came into the contest carrying an eight-game streak of shutouts dating back to the preseason, only to see the Bulldogs take a surprise lead when freshman Myranda Marquez found herself one-on-one against the Stayton keeper just five minutes into the game.
Marquez knocked it to the back of the net for her 11th goal of the season to give Woodburn a 1-0 and put the Eagles in a rare position of playing from behind. Stayton responded in kind, putting pressure on the Woodburn defense with charging attacks up the side of the field, but the Bulldogs pushed back and withstood the storm, holding their lead into the second half.
"I told the girls before the game, it's going to come down to who wants it more and who wants the ball and who is first to every ball," Whiteman said. "We have a defense that has played together, but this is our first game where we've had them all where we really want them, and I think it showed."
After repeated shots on goal, including one that found the back of the net in the first half, but was called back due to an offside call, the Eagles finally found their mark midway through the second half, tying the game at 1-1.
But the Bulldogs stayed resilient, holding the draw for the remainder of the game, until Stayton scored again in the 78th minutes to take their briefly-held 2-1 lead. True to the clichés, Rodriguez played to the very last whistle, which was only possible because Cruz never gave up.
"We have a lot of girls with experience, and Betsi Cruz is one of our girls that just knows the game," Whiteman said. "When we need her, she comes out and does things like that."
Although Woodburn (4-5-2, 4-3-2 Oregon West Conference) came into the game with a losing record overall, Whiteman said the outcome over Stayton was less a fluke and more an indication of what the team is capable of playing with a full roster.
The Bulldogs have been beset by injuries all season, robbing the team of some of its top players and never allowing Woodburn to fully develop the on-field chemistry it was expecting to have this season.
"We've had six rolled ankles this year," Whiteman said. "We have 19 on the team and we've gotten down to one sub on the bench."
With a full team that is healthy for the final stretch of the regular season, Whiteman is excited to see what her team can finally do. The Bulldogs hold a tenuous lead over Newport (4-6-1, 3-5-1) for third place in the conference standings and are currently ranked No. 17 in the OSAA rankings.
With a strong finish in the last three games of the season, including a game at Newport that was scheduled for Tuesday, the team is looking to secure a play-in berth awarded to the eight best at-large teams that did not finish in the top two spots in the league standings.
"I don't think our scores have reflected our game so far," Whiteman said. "What we know they can do, they showed us tonight, and I'm just excited to see where we go from here."