Since 2008, the North Marion boys soccer team has been on a roll, winning nine or more games four times and qualifying for the state playoffs in each of those years. This years squad appears to be quite capable of keeping the ball moving for another season.
The 2013 Huskies return all but three key members from last years team that lost in the first round to the No. 2-ranked McLoughlin Pioneers. North Marion finished last fall third in the Tri-Valley Conference with a 6-4 record. They smashed Klamath Union by an 8-2 margin in the play-in round of the playoffs to forge a contest against McLoughlin.
The Huskies lost 4-3, but they were only one of two teams to score three times against a Pioneer team that was ranked among the best defensive teams in 4A soccer.
Now North Marion is primed once again to make a run at the play-in round and beyond.
The team brings back senior goalkeeper Shane Whitehead, who was voted as the most improved player on the Huskies last season. Although the Huskies lost team MVP Edgar Salgado to graduation this spring, North Marion brings back Abner Carrillo for his senior season after the athletic forward had to miss his junior year due to academics.
Carrillo should be an apt replacement for Salgado after wowing Tri-Valley coaches with his play as a sophomore in 2010.
Everyone who saw him said he was the best player on the field, said North Marion head coach Rafael Pelaez.
While Pelaez expects Carrillo to be a potent weapon on offense for the Huskies, Pelaez cautions that the team wont look to him exclusively to score.
The way we play, everyone on the team scores, said Pelaez.
He prefers to spread the offense from player to player to prevent opposing teams from developing a game plan to stop the Huskies by focusing on one player.
As for a season outlook, North Marion has a challenging slate early in the season that includes a home game against the Phoenix Pirates last years No. 1-ranked 4A team on Sept. 7. The Huskies will also host Tillamook to start the season on Sept. 5 before traveling to Cottage Grove and returning home to play 5A Silverton.
The team then starts league play against the La Salle Falcons, a top-10 team from last year that knocked Phoenix out of the playoffs to reach the state finals. The Falcons and the Molalla Indians last seasons top two conference teams will likely once again be the two biggest road blocks between the Huskies and a Tri-Valley title.
But Pelaez avoids looking too far ahead. One break here and there can be the difference between a win and a loss in league, and any Tri-Valley team is capable of having a great day against North Marion. The team will just have to play the game and see the results on the field unfold this season, said Pelaez.