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Portland Community College soccer teams make their return to the pitch

The teams based at Rock Creek will play in the NWAC for 2015

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Former Sunset High player Juan Ortega-Avalos is a member of the new men's soccer team at PCC's Rock Creek Campus.On a hot, steamy August day under the Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District’s soccer field pavilion, Walter Arevalo is the center of attention.

Arevalo welcomes players to the artificial turf field next to Portland Community College's Rock Creek Campus (17705 N.W. Springville Road), handing each their blue-and-white jerseys, white shorts and multi-band long socks with impressive skill and swiftness. It’s made a bit harder amid the playful shouting and general craziness that comes with corralling 25 college students for a team photo.

“It’s part of the administration skills,” he said with a shrug and smile.

It’s not just any team photo day, though. It’s a day that signifies the reboot of PCC’s new intercollegiate men's and women's soccer teams, both of which will compete in the Northwest Athletic Conference this fall. The college announced last spring that it was bringing back soccer and held a series of tryouts in June. Arevalo was named the men’s team coach, while former Astoria High School boys coach Bill Patterson was picked to lead the PCC women.

It isn’t the first time the PCC Panthers pounced on the pitch. PCC briefly sported intercollegiate teams in the NWAC in the early 1990s with the men earning a runner-up finish in 1994. From the late 1960s until the early 1980s, the PCC club soccer team was a force among similar teams throughout the Northwest. The Panthers captured state titles in 1971, and 1977-81, and in 1982 beat Oregon State University 2-1 in the title club game, its last trophy.

PCC men's team aiming high

For his part, Arevalo isn’t phased by the frenetic moments of getting players ready for a team photo or for the coming intercollegiate season. In 1989, he moved to the U.S. to seek political asylum from Peru where he trained the police’s special forces in handling explosives. He joined the U.S Air Force and Air National Guard, enjoying a long career before retiring in 2009. When not at PCC, he’s on the coaching staff for the Olympic Development Program with the Portland Timbers and Thorns FC that supply players to the regional and national teams.

Arevalo, who earned an associate degree in Computer Information Management from credits he garnered at PCC and the U.S. Air Force Community College, holds a FIFA and Conmebol Associate “A” License in coaching from Peru and Brazil. The former club coach was working at Centennial High School and Forest Grove School District as a bilingual monitor and English for Speakers of Other Languages assistant teacher when he entered coaching and worked his way up through the local ranks.

Arevalo said he’s excited by the potential of his Panthers, which has players from Paraguay, Congo, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Forest Grove, Milwaukie and other locales.

“I’m a competitor and a competitive coach so I don’t want to say right now that we’ll get to the finals, but it’s pretty much the feeling of the players,” he said. “I want to be in the finals and I believe we have a chance because we have good players.”

Women’s soccer team coming together

While Arevalo hurriedly tried to get his players dressed for the team photo, Patterson was putting his players through their paces during practice on PCC's artificial turf field. Patterson, who has coached soccer for 20 years and is a philosophy instructor at the Rock Creek Campus, got intrigued by the sport because of his kids, who were top high school players in the 1990s. As they progressed through the ranks, he watched the coaches and became interested in their craft.

Eventually, he got licensed to coach soccer and was hired as head coach of the Astoria boys team. Patterson, who coached two adult national championship amateur teams, led Astoria to six league titles and to the state playoffs every year during his 10 seasons. Not bad for a guy who never played soccer as a kid.

At PCC, Patterson hopes to build around talented core players with a sharp, crisp passing and possession style.

“I’m really encouraged by the season,” Patterson said. “We have a group of committed players who want to get better and play as a team. They put their uniforms on with great pride. That’s a great thing — to give these players who may not have the opportunity to play intercollegiate sports a chance to play. They get to represent their community, their school and themselves.”