Woodburn, North Marion represented on All-American soccer watch list
Woodburn's Yahaira Rodriguez and North Marion's Mya Hammack clashed in the semifinals of the 2019 4A girls soccer state playoffs. Now the senior duo has been selected to a list of the best high school soccer players in the country.
Rodriguez and Hammack were each named to the 2020 Girls Soccer All-American Watch List, putting them in contention with several hundred student athletes around the country to compete in the 2020 All-American game next May.
The watch list seeks to identify the best senior girls soccer players across the country from each state, and narrows down the group to two teams that will play against each other in St. Louis in 2021.
The two dynamic student-athletes are among 18 Oregonians identified as finalists to compete in the 2020 High School All-American game scheduled for May 29.
"Honestly, it was really unexpected," Rodriguez said. "I didn't even know this existed. I knew there was an All-American football game, but I didn't know I could get this recognition."
Rodriguez's surprise is warranted. The high school All-American soccer game is less than a decade old, created in 2011 in the mold of All-American games in other sports such as football and basketball.
The first two years of the event recognized only boys teams before girls were added to the slate in 2013. The game has grown each year, as sponsors such as Adidas, Continental Tire and Topdrawer Soccer have helped expand the scope of the program over the years.
On the eve of the event's 10th anniversary, Rodriguez and Hammack have an opportunity to showcase their talents on a national stage and further help put northern Marion County on the map as a hotbed for girls soccer in the state.
"It's gotten a ton better," Hammack said of the level of play in the region over the past few years. "Both my team and Woodburn have put in a lot of effort. We're all working toward the same goal. I just overall think it's the girls all wanting to achieve something … My teammates have been pushing me and [that] has helped me get to this."
Woodburn and North Marion met in last year's state semifinals, with the Bulldogs earning a 3-1 victory over the Huskies to advance to the finals, where they went on to win the first state title in school history among any girls athletic program.
Rodriguez scored the final goal in victory over North Marion and went on to score the game-winner in the title game against Marist, adding to a stellar resume that includes 33 goals and 17 assists in her three years with the Bulldogs, including 19 goals and eight assists in 2019 alone.
The Bulldog forward was named to the All-State First Team and was selected as the 2019 Fall Pamplin All-American Best Girls Soccer Player.
With her senior season on the horizon, Rodriguez is looking forward to using her last year of high school soccer as a springboard to a collegiate program where she can continue her education. And, of course, to defend the Bulldogs' state championship.
"We're really excited about the upcoming season," Rodriguez said. "Our season is something to look forward to. Just winning a state championship, we were all ready to put in the work and we knew we could do it again."
Less than 10 minutes up Boones Ferry Road from Woodburn High School, Hammack has spent the past three years developing a reputation as one of the most potent scorers in the state. Heading into her senior season, the North Marion midfielder has tallied 89 goals, despite missing most of her sophomore year due to injury. With one season left, she is on the verge of joining an exclusive number of student-athletes who have scored 100 goals in their career.
"It's really exciting," Hammack said of the recognition. "I think it's just cool to be recognized with so many higher players. There's some from our league, but a lot of them are from 6A. It's nice to see all the work that I've been putting in is being shown."
The North Marion girls soccer program has undergone a renaissance since Hammack entered the scene in 2017, making the playoffs all three years, including the quarterfinals in 2017 and the semifinals in 2019. The Huskies have gone 32-12-4 in that span and won the 2017 Oregon West Conference title.
Hammack was named to the All-State First Team in 2019 and was a Second Team All-State selection in 2018 and 2017.
For more information about the High School All-American soccer game, go to highschoolsoccerallamerican.com.
Joining Rodriguez on the All-American Watch List is her counterpart on the Woodburn boys soccer team, senior midfielder Ricardo Hernandez.
A First Team All-State selection in 2019, Hernandez was also named Oregon West Conference Co-Player of the Year and scored the go-ahead goal in the Bulldogs' 3-0 win over No. 3 Ontario in the 2019 state quarterfinals.
"Ricardo is an amazingly talented midfield player and could possibly be the best in the state given his skill level," head coach Leroy Sanchez said. "Ricardo has a great vision for the game, is able to sense pressure, combines well with teammates. He's constantly aware of his surroundings and attempts to always make the best decision."
Hernandez finished his junior campaign with nine goals and six assists, relatively low numbers compared to some of his contemporaries on the watch list. But that's partly by design in a Woodburn offense that spreads the ball around the field and takes advantage of its myriad offensive weapons to put pressure on opposing defenses.
"Ricardo is fluid in his style of play and works extremely hard on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball," Sanchez said. "Not only is Ricardo great technically, but he also has a great shot to goal and can be a dangerous player around the box."
Hernandez was one of eight players from Oregon to make the boys watch list. To see the full list, go to highschoolsoccerallamerican.com/2017-boys-watch-list.
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