After difficult preseason run the Wildcats have won three straight and four of its last five games

SUBMITTED PHOTO: GREG ARTMAN - Lindsey Antonson has been one of the leading scorers for the Wildcats this season, and has helped them nab five wins.After starting the season 1-6, things appeared bleak for the Wilsonville girls' soccer team. The team had been aggressive and competed against top flight competition across the 6A and 5A levels, but just could not put together a winning effort save a 5-3 victory against Crescent Valley Tuesday, Sept. 18.

Heading into its last preseason game on the road against 6A Forest Grove, the team looked to turn things around and it did in a big way. The Wildcats shut out the Vikings 5-0 Tuesday, Sept. 25 and moved into Northwest Oregon Conference (NWOC) play with a head full of steam.

Against league foes Scappoose and Milwaukie, Wilsonville picked up two more big wins. At home against Scappoose on Tuesday, Oct. 2 they won 5-1 against the road teams NWOC debut. On Thursday, Oct. 4 Wilsonville took to the road against Milwaukie and again scored five goals, winning 5-3. Freshman Lindsey Antonson led the team in scoring those 15 goals, with contributions coming from senior strikers Teagan McNamee and Alexis Leon-Guerrero, junior midfielder Araxi Tejeda-Martinez, freshman midfielder Karina Borgen, and senior midfielder Marri McCallum.

After picking up wins against Milwaukie and the dangerous Scappoose team, Wilsonville head coach Dwight Sheppick was frank with his assessment of the upcoming league season.

"I think Scappoose and possibly Hillsboro are our biggest threats, although we can't take anyone lightly," Sheppick said. "Preseason results are misleading as things don't start separating until league play starts. Our only goal is to win our next game, which happens to be La Salle — so every game is dangerous."

The showdown with La Salle (2-0 in NWOC, 4-4-1 overall) takes place on Tuesday, Oct. 9 after the Spokesman goes to press. It will feature the only two unbeaten teams left in the conference. Wilsonville is the more proficient scoring squad, leading the NWOC with 29 goals scored but La Salle has the strongest defense, allowing a league-low 11 goals. The game will be an example of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.

One thing Sheppick wanted to be made known though is that the offensive output is a result of his teams' strong defensive presence.

"Our back line, led by (seniors) Sydni Ricketts and Jillian Greene, has been outstanding," Sheppick said. "They've had help from (senior) Grace Clarke, (junior) Courtney Ellis, (freshman) Katelyn McDougal, (junior) Maddy Weiss, (sophomore) Keira McNamee, and (freshman) Dalton Mermis. They deserve the credit for giving our front runners opportunities to score."

As the team continues its march into the thick of the Northwest Oregon Conference, Sheppick is confident that the team will continue to impress.

"Our girls have bought into our system," Sheppick said. "They trust me and believe in each other, and that's how winners and champions are made."

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