Wildcats shooting for top after disappointing 2017
Coach: Ian Reschke
2017: 4-8 (2-5 Northwest Oregon Conference)
Key losses: Oscar Baron-Soto
Key returners: Ryan McCord, Henry Tellez (questionable to return with ACL injury)
Outlook: Ultimately the Wildcats 2017 campaign did not live up to expectations. The team failed to make the postseason after two straight appearances in the 5A state title game. Rightfully so, the team has high hopes to turn things around in the 2018 season.
Though they dropped the season opener against Bend, head coach Ian Reschke saw easy lessons to teach his squad for down the line. The 3-2 loss was not one due to a skills deficit, but due to poor decision making.
"If we just play our game and stick to it, we're fine," Reschke said. "We can pass well and work the ball well. We can create scoring chances. We can keep the ball away from the opponent. When we make decisions to go outside of what we're good at is when we ran into problems yesterday. It's like trying to reinvent the wheel: We don't need to do that. We know what works for us."
The team fields 10 seniors, including junior Ryan McCord, who was an all-league honorable mention last year. Other recognizable names for the upcoming season include sophomore Eliab Bautista, junior Sam Blohn and junior Angel Ulloa Romero. Junior Henry Tellez is also on the roster, but is questionable as he rehabs an ACL injury sustained in the spring. A new addition to the roster is team captain Ruben Lopez Camacho, who Reschke expects to lead from the midfield.
Reschke expects to have better passing this year, and use possession to set up goals against the tough competition that inhabit the Northwest Oregon Conference (NWOC). This year, La Salle Prep are expected to be strong again, after making it to the semifinal last year. Last year's league champions Hillsboro will be strong competition as well, and Parkrose, who surprised last year with an unbeaten league run, figure to be a tough out.
Coming up from 4A will be Scappoose, a dark horse in the NWOC title race. Last year, they were 6-7 overall, including 4-6 in the Cowapa League.
With the healthy competition, Reschke is confident his team can still reach the top four of the league, but understands there will be work to do.
"I think that's a realistic goal, a reachable goal," Reschke said. "There are some strong teams, and I don't want to put anything out there that's going to be locker room material for those top teams. We'll give them a fight for sure. We're shooting for number one, but we'd be disappointed if we didn't get top four in the league."
The next game for the Wildcats was Thursday, Aug. 30 against 6A Tigard at home, where the Wildcats again came up short, 6-2. Next, the Wildcats faced off against West Albany Tuesday, Sept. 4 after the Spokesman went to press.