Expected: Woodburn girls soccer wins second title in three years
HILLSBORO, Ore.—For the second time in three years the Woodburn girl's soccer team brought home 4A state gold, bringing an unbeaten season to a close.
Woodburn defeated Hidden Valley in penalty kicks 7-6 on Saturday, Nov. 13 with two huge saves from junior goalkeeper Litzy Gonzalez and the seventh penalty kick goal from junior Cassidy Garibaldo to put the game away. Woodburn finishes the season as the only undefeated team left in the state at 4A, with an overall record of 13-0-4.
If you spoke with Woodburn girls soccer coach Andrea Whiteman over the course of the season, there was never any doubt about the confidence she had in her team. After winning the Oregon West Conference title, the state championship was logically next.
Even after Woodburn and Hidden Valley played to a scoreless draw in regulation and two overtime periods, Whiteman was nervous but knew that her squad had what it took to get its second championship in three years.
"I think what gives me confidence is our team and how we can depend on each other," Whiteman said. "I can depend on them to come out. I tell the girls this, when we play a bad game and other teams play their best games, we tie. To be able to do that gives me confidence in them. Yes I was nervous because you never know how things are going to go, there's a lot of things that are out of our control. But the things we can control, we do control and we do them well."
A big part of Woodburn's success against Hidden Valley was its defense. The Bulldogs neutralized a potent Hidden Valley offense in the midfield for large portions of the game. When the Mustangs broke through into the attacking third, Woodburn's backline and Gonzalez came up big. It was the 11th shutout of the season.
"Honestly I think it was a team win, team defense," Whiteman said. "I think there were different places where different people stood out. I think during the game (Litzy) set the tone. She does that from the back. I think our two center backs, (junior) Alyssa Rios and (junior) Caitlynn Spencer, did an excellent job of commanding the back, stepping into the midfield when we needed it. I think (senior) Myranda (Marquez) stepped it up in the second half. Overall, I think it was a combination of everyone doing their part."
With the game still scoreless at the end of the second overtime period, Woodburn and Hidden Valley went to penalty kicks. It was the second time the Bulldogs would go to a penalty kick shootout in the postseason, the first time being in the opening round against North Valley. Woodburn won that shoutout 4-3 after going in tied up 1-1 on Tuesday, Nov. 2.
That experience in the opening round was beneficial, depending on who you ask. Whiteman believes that it was good for her team to have gone through the stress of a shootout in the postseason to prepare for a situation like this. For Woodburn's goalkeeper, it was nothing new.
"The North Valley penalty kick shootout didn't really prepare me for this one," Gonzalez said. "At the end of every practice we have a penalty shootout."
Gonzalez showed up in a big way once again for the Bulldogs. Even after having a save called back for being off her line, Gonzalez still managed to get big saves on Hidden Valley's second and eighth shots. That was despite having turf in her eye during one of the saves.
"In the second penalty, it only hurt when I would blink," Gonzalez said. "So I tried not to blink the whole time."
Woodburn made seven of its eight attempts in the penalty kick shootout. Junior Luz Rojas, freshman Vanessa Jimenez, Marquez, sophomore Hadassah Nava, senior Larissa Fregoso, Spencer, and Garibaldo each made their shots to secure the win.
For Garibaldo it was a moment of redemption. The junior was the only Bulldog to miss her penalty kick during the game against North Valley in the first round of playoffs. It was a moment of poetic justice that she was the one to etch Woodburn into the history books once more.
"It's just a really incredible feeling," Garibaldo said. "It's a mental hurdle as well because of course my mind is going to go back to that game. But my team had confidence in me, my coach had confidence in me. She wouldn't have put me back there if she didn't believe I could put one away for us."
At the conclusion of the game Litzy Gonzalez was named the Woodburn Player of the Game. It was something that, in the moment, she was still embracing.
"It's like, I can't absorb it yet. It's not real for me yet."
Gonzalez finished the game with four saves in regulation. Woodburn is a perfect 2-0 in state championship games.
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