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No. 7 Bulldogs post back-to-back shutouts ahead of league showdown with Philomath

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Yahaira Rodriguez scored three of Woodburns first four goals against Cascade last week and finished with a game-high four goals in the teams 8-0 victory.After consecutive shutout victories at home last week over Newport and Cascade to improve to 6-1 on the season, the No. 7 Woodburn girls soccer team appears to be on the right track.

The Bulldogs are improving from a team that is "hot to start" to one of the top 4A programs in the state this year.

Since falling 7-0 in their season-opener to No. 3 North Marion on Sept. 5, the Bulldogs have won six straight games. In that span, Woodburn has yet to give up more than one goal per game and has outscored opponents by a 28-4 margin.

"You still don't hear a lot of chatter about it, (but) it's something that I'm trying to make sure the girls feel really proud of it," head coach Andrea Whiteman said. "Little by little starting to take notice of what they are capable of, (and) I'm waiting for the day that they stop being surprised by that."

In Woodburn's most recent victory, an 8-0 final over the visiting Cascade Cougars on Thursday, Sept. 26, the Bulldogs scored early and often led by dual threats Yahaira Rodriguez and Myranda Marquez, who combined to score seven goals. Senior Bailey Castro added the eighth goal against Cascade.

It was the best game of the season for Rodriguez, who scored three of her game-high four goals in the first half to help the Bulldogs take a 4-0 lead after the first 40 minutes.

Woodburn ranks third in the state in goals scored this season, thanks in part to the balanced approach between Rodriguez and Marquez, who find ways to break past opposing defenses and generate 1-on-1 opportunities at the goal each game.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Myranda Marquez played a part in nearly every goal against Cascade, scoring three of her own and assisting on four more."It's hard to find people who can match them," Whiteman said. "I think this year we really have the people who are making those passes through to them."

Whiteman credits much of their success to Woodburn's passing game, which has assisted in nearly every goal this season. Against Cascade, Marquez tallied four assists to go along with her three goals — something that Whiteman has noticed with increased frequency lately. After Marquez scored seven of the Bulldogs' first nine goals of the season, teams have gradually started to mark her closely, leaving Rodriguez open for more opportunities. In the past four games, Rodriguez scored 10 goals, while Marquez has netted eight.

"Myranda is a wonderful player, but people are going to notice real quick that's the person we go to," Whiteman said. "And I think that's why Yahaira is getting a lot of goals, because oftentimes people attract to Myranda and that leaves Yahaira open."

Woodburn added a 5-0 win over Newport earlier in the week on Sept. 24, led by a hat trick from Marquez and two more from Rodriguez. But it was the team's defense, which has yielded just four goals since the game against North Marion, that caught Whiteman's eye.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - The return of senior Lily Duran to the lineup has helped the Bulldogs defense, which has given up just four goals in their last six games."In our other games, also, four in a row with one goal scored against us," she said. "That is what we were trying to prevent. We would get that goal scored, then learn and it wouldn't happen again."

Ultimately, Whiteman would like to see the Bulldogs bring home a league title for the first time since 2000, but she knows that to do so, they'll have to go through Philomath, the team she played and coached for before coming to Woodburn.

Since losing back-to-back games to top-10 teams to open the season, Philomath (4-2-1) has gone 4-0-1 in league and has beaten their last four opponents by a 23-0 margin.

Against Cascade, Woodburn was forced to play on their former home grass field as the track was resurfaced, but the project was delayed due to rain. If it can be finished before Tuesday, Whiteman likes her chances with Marquez and Rodriguez leading the charge out front.

"It's going to be a really good game, that's also why I want to be on turf," she said. "Yahaira and Myranda are pretty unstoppable on turf."

Woodburn holds a slight edge in the league standings, but the Warriors stand as the Bulldogs' biggest challenger to an Oregon West title this year, with defending league champion Stayton sitting just behind at 3-1-1.

"I think it's time," Whiteman said. "I think the girls are ready too."PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Despite Woodburns success this season, the team is still relatively young, with Cassidy Garibaldo suiting up as one of eight freshmen on the varsity team.

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