Woodburn girls advance to state championship in 3-1 win over North Marion
Woodburn High School was the site of regional soccer success on the night of Tuesday, Nov. 12 when cross-town rivals North Marion and Woodburn met in the 2019 4A Girls Soccer State Semifinals.
The Woodburn girls ultimately took the contest 3-1, advancing to their first state championship berth in program history, but the post-game revelry at midfield brought together two teams bound by ties of friendship, coaches and community.
"I played with like half of those girls in club," North Marion sophomore Dominique Huapeo said. "I knew most of them, and I'm happy for them too; I'm hoping they can win state."
The fact that Huskies had advanced to their first state semifinal appearance in school history, and the Bulldogs were making just their second appearance, is a testament to the rising level of girls youth soccer in northern Marion County feeding talent into the two high schools separated by just six miles.
The two teams combined to feature 13 freshmen on the varsity roster on Tuesday night. Of those, six players — three on each team — are members of Woodburn Futbol Club co-founder and WHS freshman head coach Mayra Vazquez's club team.
"A lot of it had to do with the program," Woodburn junior defender Alyssa Padilla said. "Having the clubs, and definitely having those younger groups and building that up with Mayra part of the program really helps a lot."
Though jovial embraces were plentiful after the game, the contest on the field was anything but, as both teams were desperate to avoid elimination and make their first state championship appearance.
The two teams had previously met in the season opener at North Marion High School, with the Huskies taking a 7-0 victory. Two months later, with a revamped defense that had put up back-to-back shutouts in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Bulldogs were ready to return the favor.
Buoyed by team captain Padilla controlling Woodburn's back line and senior goalkeeper Carla Zamora running the show from the net, the Bulldogs successfully fought back each North Marion incursion and kept the ball mostly in Husky territory throughout the first half of the game.
"(Padilla) does a good job of setting the tone," Woodburn head coach Andrea Whiteman said. "She's constantly monitoring the whole field, telling people where they need to be, stepping to the ball."
The Bulldogs peppered North Marion's defense during the opening half, but the Husky defense and sophomore goalkeeper Mallory Patzer kept Woodburn at-bay. The Bulldogs' best opportunity came in the 13th minute from Padilla, who serves as the team's go-to option on free kicks, when her 25-yard free kick from the left side hit top of the cross bar.
The Huskies had a similar opportunity in the final seconds of the half when junior Hailey Welch got a shot off from near mid-field that caromed off the top of Woodburn's cross bar before safely hitting the turf as time expired.
In contrast to the first 40 minutes, the second half was an offensive showcase, with Woodburn striking early with a pair of goals that gave them momentum through the rest of the game.
Sophomore Myranda Marquez put the Bulldogs on the board in the 42nd minute when freshman Luz Rojas slotted her the ball, putting it past Patzer for the 1-0 lead. Four minutes later, freshman Litzy Gonzalez slammed one home from 15 yards out on a pass from freshman Cassidy Garibaldo for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
Woodburn put the finishing touches on the game in the 61st minute when Patzer blocked a shot by Rojas, only for Woodburn junior Yahaira Rodriguez to follow up the rebound, putting it in the back of the net for a 3-0 lead.
"A lot had to do with how we built off each other's energy," Padilla said. "One person was really happy and we see the positive energy and we keep pushing forward."
While the game looked firmly in Woodburn's hands, the Huskies continued to push strong. North Marion had a number of shots in the second half that couldn't find their mark, and junior midfielder Mya Hammack had a one-on-one opportunity against Zamora that went just wide of the net.
The Huskies ultimately scored in the closing minutes of the game, when Zamora was whistled for holding the ball too long, giving Hammack an indirect kick from inside the penalty box. Zamora deflected Hammack's shot, but Huapeo was there on the follow-up to score from two yards out and end Woodburn's two-game playoff shutout streak.
"We put up a really good fight in the last three minutes," Huapeo said. "We never gave up, and that's what really matters."
While North Marion's season ended one game short of the team's ultimate goal, the Huskies celebrated the program's best finish in school history. North Marion went 11-4-2 this year, and after being knocked out of the quarterfinals by Hidden Valley as the top-ranked team two years ago, returned the favor in this year's quarterfinal, traveling to Grants Pass to eliminate the defending state champion Mustangs 2-0 on Nov. 9. On top of that, the team is able to return every varsity player except for the lone senior Yesi Diaz.
"I'm just proud of my team for making it this far," Huapeo said. "I know we'll do better next year because we have the same team. We're losing one senior, and with our freshmen, I really believe we can make it really far next year."
For Woodburn (13-2-2), the ride continues for one more game — the 2019 4A State Championship — on Saturday, Nov. 16 against the Marist Spartans (15-1-2). And while the Bulldogs have already gone further than any girls program in school history, the team is eager to take it one step further and hang a championship banner in the rafters.
"I am so excited; we made history," Zamora said. "I feel like a lot of people are expecting big things, and we're going to give it to them."
The 2019 4A Girls Soccer State Championships will be held at Liberty High School in Hillsboro. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
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