Going for four straight
Woodburn boys soccer team is poised to make a historic run for another state championship
First-year coach Stan Baker barked out instructions to the Woodburn Bulldogs boys soccer team during the opening week of practice, calling for his players to spread the field and find open space.
A week later at the teams home jamboree against Tualatin and Hood River, and Baker continued to stress to his players to use the entire length and width of the field. Baker wants to create open passing lanes that the Bulldogs can use to generate quick attacks and two versus one opportunities on offense.
Baker has a large task in front of him as he seeks to become the third coach in four years to lead the Bulldogs to a state championship. Former coaches Luis Del Rio and Carlos Horcos led the Bulldogs to 5A titles in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Although they are gone, seniors Michael Hobson, Jesse Martin and Miguel Herrera remain as bridges between the old coaching regimes and the new one.
Hobson, Martin and Miguel were freshmen when Woodburn won their first championship in 2010, and have a chance to graduate this year having never known a Woodburn team without a state title. The trio is part of a senior-heavy class of Bulldogs 10 total who are eager to carry on the tradition of excellence in Woodburn soccer for another year.
The Bulldogs have been hard at work, learning Bakers coaching style and schemes since he was hired over the summer to replace Horcos. In comparison to Horcos fiery demeanor, Baker is calm and subdued on the sideline, barely audible over the din of the game. He has taught at Woodburn for six years and brings 20 years of youth coaching experience in the United States, Spain and South America.
Locally, Baker has experience coaching at Westside Timbers Alliance as well as with the Portland Timbers Pre-Academy program, where he already knows several players from the Bulldogs. Through his first few weeks of full practice with the team, Baker has been impressed with his teams ability to learn new concepts on the fly as they get ready for the 2013 fall season.
The things that normally take six months to develop, this group picks it up very quickly, said Baker. Especially in the attacking parts, but weve been working only on defending so far.
In the first full-contact jamboree, which consisted of two 15-minute halves, the Bulldogs controlled the ball and were the dominant team in both contests. Woodburn beat Tualatin in the opening game and played Hood River to a draw using mostly reserve players.
We moved the ball really well, said Baker. The passing we were moving the ball on the ground mostly. I thought we countered well. When we didnt get out and counter, we were really fast and quick.
Much of that speed belongs to Hobson, the teams leader at forward who is also a sprinter during the spring season with Woodburns track and field team. Hobson has been a First Team All State selection in each of the past two years and was named the OSAA 5A Player of the Year in 2012. He and freshman Anthony Santillan give the Bulldogs a quick pair of attackers toward the goal.
Were dangerous up front, said Baker. Theres a lot of speed.
To compete for a rare fourth straight title, the Bulldogs will need a team effort, and Baker is looking to Martin, Herrera, Kevin Moranchel, Arturo Hernandez and Dago Diaz to be big contributors for Woodburn this year.
Those guys are the core of the team, obviously with Hobson as well, said Baker.
The Bulldogs start the season Wednesday on the road against the North Salem Vikings to open a slate of seven non-conference games. The Vikings were the last team to beat Woodburn when they handed the Bulldogs a 3-2 loss to open the season in 2011. Since then, Woodburn has gone 33-0-2 and finished last season on an 11-game winning streak.
The Bulldogs open the Mid-Willamette schedule against South Albany on Oct. 3. Woodburn has won six of the last seven conference titles and hasnt lost a game against a league rival since a 6-2 loss at Corvallis in 2009.