Woodburn once again aims for conference title
Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery to reinvigorate a team.
When Woodburn's girls soccer team dropped down from 5A to 4A in the 2018-19 season they took a step forward. After failing to post a winning season several years in a row, the team found new life in the 4A Oregon West Conference with an 8-6-2 overall record.
Then freshman Myranda Marquez was a part of that squad, and she has, along with head coach Andrea Whiteman, helped turn the program into a winning one. The very next season, the team captured the 4A state title with an electric run through the postseason, besting Valley Catholic, Gladstone, North Marion and, finally, Marist Catholic for the gold.
Last season the team briefly returned to the 5A Mid-Willamette Conference, posting a 4-2-2 league record. Now at the precipice of a new season, Woodburn is once again in the Oregon West Conference.
The team brings back plenty of experience as it attempts to recapture gold, including several juniors who tasted success.
"The best thing about our team is that we have a wide variety of athletes who lead in different ways," Whiteman said. "Many of our girls excel in the classroom and in the community. Many lead with their strong work ethic, and others lead with their fine-tuned skills or vocal communication. We have a very strong class of third-year varsity juniors who have stepped up as leaders this year."
The most decorated of the players on the roster is Marquez. The senior captain and former state champion is a two-time first team all-state recipient, three-time first team all-state recipient and co-Player of the Year in the Oregon West Conference. Whiteman believes that Marquez will be the tone setter on the field for her teammates.
"What makes Myranda such a special leader is that she leads by example," Whiteman said. "She gives every ounce of effort possible and encourages her teammates to do the same. She continually seeks ways she can grow and improve as a player and thus sets an example for our other athletes to never settle in complacency."
While the Oregon West Conference is always competitive, there have been a few consistent powerhouses competing for bragging rights. Longtime staple Philomath has been a top-two team for years, and with North Marion's departure for the Tri-Valley Conference in 2018-19, Woodburn stepped neatly into competing for the title. Whiteman expects the league title to be up for grabs between Philomath and the Bulldogs.
Woodburn's first game of the season is Tuesday, Sept. 7, against familiar foe and 5A juggernaut Crescent Valley. The first league competition of the year comes on Sept. 14 against Sweet Home in a home game at 6 p.m.
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