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Soccers one-man wall

by: Vern Uyetake, Just like his father and his brother before him, Lakeridge’s Jason Dodson knows a thing or two about playing goalie. He recently had a tryout with the U15 national team.

Jason Dodson didn't receive much attention during last year's soccer season. The freshman goalie at Lakeridge High School swung for the varsity team that was in the midst of reeling off one of the most impressive winning streaks in Oregon 4A boys soccer history.

But, this upcoming season, Dodson will likely be one of Pacer's biggest assets and he has already garnered national attention for his prowess minding the net.

Dodson recently returned from a stint with the U15 national team at the Home Depot Center in California.

There, Dodson got the chance to play with some of the best young soccer players in the country, working out daily and playing in multiple games against terrific competition.

Dodson was one of four goalies from around the country who was invited to play for the exclusive team and, in all likelihood, the experience and recognition he received because of this selection will lead to more opportunities down the road.

'I definitely have some big thoughts for the future,' Dodson said.

Goal keeping runs in Dodson's blood. His father played the position when he was younger as did his older brother David, who also played for Lakeridge.

'I think it's some kind of genetic defect,' Dodson said.

Although he started playing soccer almost from the time he could walk, he began playing goalie during classic soccer and continued on his Lake Oswego Soccer Club team.

'I started (playing goalie) at first because I didn't like to run very much and then I found out that I was pretty good at it,' Dodson said.

His play on the regional team impressed his coach enough for him to give Dodson a recommendation to be considered for the U15 national squad.

Dodson's recent recognition also earned him a trip to play in Costa Rica in enormous stadiums as part of an 11-day excursion.

'That was really moving. To walk out into these 40,000 capacity stadiums was incredible,' Dodson said.

But his experience with the national team in California is what may open doors in the future.

At the training camp, Dodson was forced to miss the majority of his finals at Lakeridge but was allowed to make them up. He was put up in a hotel with the rest of the team and ran drills daily. He was impressed with the skill levels of his fellow players and also felt that he held his own against some of the top athletes in the country.

'I think I represented myself pretty well. All of the guys down there were really solid technically. There weren't really any weaknesses to exploit. It was nice to have to rise up to that level,' Dodson said.

He credits much of his success to the world-class training he has received. In the past, Dodson has worked with the Portland Timbers' Matt Napoleon and he is currently working with Angela Harrison, a former University of Portland player who also spent time in the now defunct women's professional soccer league.

Although playing with the national team certainly holds its fair share of excitement, Dodson may actually be more eager about taking over the starting goalkeeper spot at Lakeridge in the fall.

'Since my brother was on the team it's been a dream of mine to play for Lakeridge,' Dodson said.

Dodson will take over in front of the net for a team that is losing a significant amount of talent but is still widely considered to be one of the top teams in the state next year.

The Pacers captured the state title two years ago and were unbeaten in the preseason and regular season last year before being shocked by North Salem in the first round of the playoffs.

Practices for the team will begin in August and it's likely that the Pacers will be playing with confidence from the opening whistle in September knowing that they have a solid presence in the goal backing them up.