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The Bulldogs took over in the second half against a game Cavaliers squad, playing loose and fast en route to the win

WOODBURN—The Woodburn boys soccer team has begun its march toward another state title. The perennial title-contending team is sterling thus far in their campaign, going 2-0 in as many contests.

Most recently, the Bulldogs took down 6A Clackamas 3-0 on Thursday, Sept. 9. It's the first time Woodburn will play a 6A team on its home turf, but not the last. The team plays Cleveland at home Thursday, Sept. 23.

The game started out with Clackamas setting a fierce pace on offense, forcing the Woodburn defense to react and fend off a hungry Cavaliers attack around 10 minutes into the first half. Clackamas junior Gavin Ripley took a shot that went just right of the goal. Three minutes later, Woodburn starting goalkeeper Alexis Gutierrez was subbed off and replaced with backup goalie Alejandro Vergara.

"Our first keeper Alexis had, I think, a hamstring pull, and I don't think Alejandro woke up today knowing that he was going to have to go in there," Woodburn head coach Leroy Sanchez said. "But I've been in his ear, our coaching staff have been in his ear and our boys about picking each other up and making each other believe that they have the skill to play at the highest level. Alejandro went in there, and his performance was awesome."

The home team's defense held on, not giving clean looks on goal, but head coach Leroy Sanchez could be heard from the sideline calling on his team to "play much faster."

"They've got to think fast, they've got to play fast," Sanchez said. "When you don't play fast, you give the defense, the other team, the ability to adjust. When you're taking one or two touches, it allows you to move the ball faster. It makes them slower in their transitions. If we don't think fast, if we don't play fast, we're not going to be able to move the ball like we want to move the ball."

Substitutions were made, there were more instructions and calls for urgency, and then late in the half, finally, Woodburn got one to go.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Junior Spencer Karsseboom celebrates scoring his first of two goals with his team. Woodburn would go on to win 3-0 against Clackamas on Thursday, Sept. 9.

Woodburn junior Spencer Karsseboom collected the ball inside the Clackamas box off of a free kick and punched it home, giving the home team a 1-0 lead that they would ride going into halftime. It wasn't much longer before Karsseboom got on the board again, this time in the second half. The speed of play was a huge factor in both goals, Sanchez said.

"Absolutely, being able to have our mids take care of the midfield, being able to go wide, getting in on those crosses," Sanchez said, "he was able to get a few shots in, continuing to raise the intensity.

Karsseboom put it past from the left side of the field, just outside the box at 32:06 of the half to give the Bulldogs some cushion to work with.

Clackamas, dealing with injuries and making myriad substitutions late in the game, still willed itself into attacking territory. The Cavaliers twice hit the football crossbar just over the soccer crossbar with less than 10 minutes to go in the game, but to no avail.

It was Woodburn who had the last laugh, when sophomore Sebastian Ortiz put the ball past the Clackamas keeper into the left-hand corner of the goal with 31 seconds left on the clock.

Woodburn (2-0) faces off against familiar foe Wilsonville (2-0-1) on Thursday, Sept. 16. Clackamas (0-2) will play Southridge (4-0) on Monday, Sept. 13.

"Wilsonville is 15 minutes away, but they have a really strong program, they've always been strong, and we know it's going to be a tough game," Sanchez said. "We just have to come out wanting it more and playing our style of soccer, and I think we can make it happen."


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