Ponce comes with impressive credentials as a player

by: JOHN DENNY - Sixteen young ladies from Putnam were on hand on June 5 as they were introduced to their new varsity soccer coach, Alex Ponce. Ponce has been varsity assistant under former head coach Medhat Mohamed for the past three seasons.Alex Ponce, a varsity assistant at Putnam for the past three seasons, has taken over the head coaching position in girls soccer, replacing Medhat Mohamed, aka “MeMo.”

Ponce, 27, has excelled as a soccer player since first taking up the sport at age 5.

A native of Hood River, Ponce was Oregon big-school high school boys soccer “Player of the Year” his senior year at Hood River High School (2004), when he led the Eagles to the semifinals, their best season in school history.

He played one year at Clark College, where he was named NWAACC Southwest Division “Player of the Year,” as he lead Clark to the NWAACC championship game.

He was an NAIA All-American and Cascade Collegiate Conference “Player of the Year” at Concordia College in 2007, leading the Cavaliers to the regional finals.

“In high school and college, I was the team’s leading goal-scorer, and in assists as well,” Ponce says.

Ponce continues playing soccer today, playing two to three times a week on Portland area amateur traveling teams. Later this month he’ll compete for an Oregon team in a tournament in British Columbia.

Alex’s dad, Jose Ponce, was a longtime youth coach in Hood River. Alex assisted his dad in conducting a three-day summer camp in Hood River from 2005 to 2010.

Ponce says he plans to continue to build on the upward trend in Putnam girls soccer which began in 2010, in MeMo’s first season.

“We’ve graduated 11 seniors and we’ve got a lot of shoes to fill, but we’ve got a good group of kids coming back,” Ponce said. “We’ll be shooting for top two [in the Northwest Oregon Conference]. The bar has been set higher and higher each year. MeMo turned the program into a conference championship contender. MeMo helped put Putnam on the map in girls soccer.”

MeMo’s Putnam teams made the state playoffs in Class 5A in all three of his seasons at the helm, going 9-5-1 (4-2-1 and tied for third in league) in 2010; going 10-6-0 (4-3-0 and placing fourth in league) in 2011; and going 9-4-2 (4-2-1 and placing fourth in league) in 2012. The Kingsmen lost in the quarterfinals in both 2011 and 2012, losing to 2012 state champion Sherwood 2-0 last fall.

Before MeMo took over, Putnam had gone six years without a winning record and eight years without a state playoff appearance.

Ponce, who works as a front-desk agent at a hotel in Wilsonville, says he would like someday to coach at the collegiate level.

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