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Wildcats beat Grizzlies, eye first state crown

Westview wins again by 1-0 to reach the 6A championship
by: Miles Vance SEMI-TOUGH – Westview’s Danny Segovia makes a header while defended by McMinnville’s Francisco Leon on Tuesday.

ROCK CREEK - Westview's status as a scoring machine is now, finally, over.

Despite that, the Wildcat boys soccer team has fully retained its status as a winning machine.

Westview, the Metro League runner-up, won for the fifth straight time on Tuesday, taking out Pacific Conference champ McMinnville 1-0 in the Class 6A state semifinals at Westview High School. The win lifted the Wildcats' season record to 15-2-1 and sent the Cats on to the state championship game where they'll face Special District 1 champ Grant (14-2-2) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium.

Westview will play in the title contest for the third time in seven years and has a chance to win the school's first-ever state crown (one of Westview's two previous title-game losses came to Grant in 2008). McMinnville saw its season end at 14-3-1.

'Now that we got here, we just have to finish up,' said Westview senior midfielder Jordan Van Baest.

'Getting the opportunity to help Westview do this is amazing,' said senior forward Jaime Velasco, who scored his team's lone goal on Tuesday, his school-record 29th of the season, after moving to Oregon from Alaska last year. 'We just need hard work. Hard work, score fast and play our game.'

The Wildcats did all that against McMinnville in Tuesday's cold, foggy conditions, and saw Velasco break through to get the game-winner just 16 minutes, 38 seconds into the contest. There, Velasco made a long run down the right seam, cut to his left just outside the McMinnville penalty box and hit a left-footed laser past Grizzly goalkeeper Ryan Aker into the left side of the net.

'We'd been inconsistent coming in so we just had to play our best soccer and try to score fast like we did to keep the momentum,' Velasco said. 'We knew it was going to be a dogfight when we got here, so when we scored that one goal, we just had to maintain that and keep going.'

While Velasco's goal marked the end of the scoring, it hardly marked the end of the excitement. The Wildcats got two great scoring chances late in the first half, the first of those a Declan Hopkins header that just missed high after a Van Baest corner kick, and a hard Van Baest shot stopped by Aker following a Hopkins cross with 15 seconds to go before halftime.

While Westview had its chances in the second half, it was McMinnville that really forced the tempo. The Grizzlies had three strong chances to tie the contest in the second half, the first of those a miss by Nick Autencio off a Dustin Munger cross with 12:30 left to play, the second an Autencio shot stopped by Westview keeper Yoji Ishizuka with 4:35 remaining, and the last of those a Munger header off an Adrian Rubio corner kick that was deflected away with 2:23 to go.

'We just didn't want to have it in our (end),' Westview senior defender Matt Eden said. 'We wanted to control it up by them where they couldn't damage us. We did a pretty good job of that for a while and we held on to the one-goal lead and came out with the win.'

'Those were some scary moments. Defending one goal for 60 minutes is not easy,' Van Baest said. But 'it feels great. We worked hard for it.'

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to www.milesvance.exposuremanager.com.