The Bulldogs advance to state quarterfinals after battling the Knights for 100 minutes, eventually winning PKs 4-3

WOODBURN, Ore.—When Woodburn's Hadassah Nava put the ball past North Valley goalkeeper Ashlyn Godfrey, it was the end of a trial of attrition for the Bulldogs. For the 100 minutes Woodburn and the vising Knights battled it out for a spot in the quarterfinals, ultimately coming down to penalty kicks after regulation and a pair of overtime halves.

Woodburn made four penalty kicks. North Valley made three. The Bulldogs were moving on to the quarterfinals.

The game was back and forth the entire time. In the first half, Woodburn senior Myranda Marquez notched a goal to put the Bulldogs up 1-0 on an assist from senior Larissa Fregoso.

"Larissa just kicked it in, and it bounced, and I knew it was going to bounce out of the goalie," Marquez said, "so I just kept running and stuck my foot out hoping it would go in. I tried not to run into the post, and it went in."

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Woodburn senior Myranda Marquez scored the teams lone goal in regulation, and put away her PK to help beat the North Valley team on Nov. 2.

In the second half though, North Valley caught a break. After a foul in the box resulted in a penalty kick, North Valley junior Addi Smith punched the ball past Woodburn goalkeeper Litzy Gonzalez at 15:25 of the second half. The game was tied up 1-1.

The Knights kept the pressure on the Bulldogs, never letting the team get a great look at the net and forcing its way into the attacking third on more than one occasion. The team didn't look as connected as it had in the past, something Woodburn head coach Andrea Whiteman attributed to nerves.

"As a team when we get nervous, we try really, really hard...we're putting in as much effort as possible, which is all I can really ask, but we have to do that together," Whiteman said. "The majority of our team is fairly quiet, just in general, and when they get nervous, they tend to get quieter, and then we're not as connected."

Woodburn managed to seize the momentum in the waning minutes of the half. In the eighth minute the team earned a corner kick, ultimately defended out by the North Valley defense. Minutes later the Bulldogs cross the ball in from the right-hand side seeking a striker, but the ball was saved by North Valley's Godfrey.

In the final seconds of regulation Woodburn sophomore Elizabeth Valdez Vazquez took a strong shot that went ever so slightly left of the post. At the end of 80 minutes the teams were tied up 1-1.

In overtime it was a similar arc for the home team. Slowly the team built up momentum over the course of the 10-minute overtime half, but was unable to capitalize on the finishing blow. This time it was sophomore Julissa Rios who nearly scored the go-ahead goal, missing just left at the 1:45 mark of the half.

The second half of overtime saw Marquez put a free kick just over the North Valley crossbar. When the horn blew for the fourth time of the night, the game still stood at 1-1, and the teams went to a penalty kick shootout. Woodburn lined up its shot-takers, and called upon Gonzalez to keep North Valley out of the goal. Was the junior goalkeeper intimidated?

"There were definitely nerves," Gonzalez said.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Woodburn goalkeeper Litzy Gonzalez had two massive saves in the PK shootout against North Valley in the opening round of the 2021 playoffs.

The trust was there with her teammates and the coaching staff. Before the shootout began, Whiteman told her goalkeeper a few words that her coach had told her when she was a player.

"Something my old coach used to say to me is that, 'The goalie's job is to save one,"' Whiteman said. "That's what I told Litzy. 'Litzy, you save one, we'll do the rest.' So if we miss one, now she has to save two. She knows that. I think Litzy comes out with confidence that a lot of people on the team look up to. She's such a confident player in the goal, on the field, so I think that showed in the goal tonight."

Gonzalez stepped up big. In the Knights five shots taken, Gonzalez stopped the second and fifth.

"I was thinking like, just pick a side and commit," Gonzalez said. "I picked the right side, and it was the right side."

Woodburn did its job in making goals as well, as junior Luz Rojas, Marquez, junior Caitlynn Spencer, and Hadassah Nava put the ball past North Valley's keeper to secure the win. While the nerves were there, for Marquez, the confidence in her teammates was greater.

"I have a lot of confidence in the girls, and we've been practicing a lot," Marquez said. "I feel like we deserved to win, so even though the second one didn't go in, I knew that Litzy, she's great at penalties, so I knew we were going to win."

With Woodburn (10-0-4) now through to the state quarterfinals, there's time to fine tune a few things in the practices between now and Saturday, Nov. 6 when the Bulldogs host the La Grande Tigers (11-2-1).

"I think we just want to be really intentional with practice," Whiteman said. "Really kind of analyze tonight. All four of us coaches are going to sit down individually and think about what the areas are that we want to focus on to get the most improvement. I think conditioning-wise we're fine, so a lot of our practices can be more walk-throughs, working on our attack through the middle. We get to be nitpicky during playoffs, which we all love to nerd out over."

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.

Have a thought or opinion on the news of the day? Get on your soapbox and share your opinions with the world. Send us a Letter to the Editor!