Forest Grove advances to the second round of the playoffs with an impressive 3-0 win

by: NEWS-TIMES  PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Forest Grove players hoist teammate Hector Ortiz after the junior scored one of his two goals in a 3-0 upset victory over Lake Oswego.LAKE OSWEGO — This postseason success is getting to be a habit for the Forest Grove boys soccer team.

The Vikings entered Saturday’s Class 6A first round state playoff match as big underdogs to Lake Oswego, at least according to the computers.

So much for the rankings.

Propelled by Pedro Rodriguez’s first-half strike and the sublime finishing touch of Hector Ortiz, No. 25 Forest Grove turned back the eighth-ranked Lakers 3-0 on the road at Cobb Field. With the win, the Vikings advanced to the second round of the state playoffs for the second consecutive year.

Lake Oswego, the Three Rivers League runner-up, ended its season at 9-4-2.

“The victory today is 3-0, but Lake Oswego fought really hard,” Forest Grove coach Angelo Simonetti said. “They’re a really good team. We got a little in the end better game. We moved the ball better.”

Needing to pick up a win on the road against a top-10 team to keep their season going, the Vikings (8-4-4) did not seem much intimidated about their task as Rodriguez broke the scoreless draw about three quarters of the way through the first half.

After the senior midfielder took a cross from Lalo Gonzalez, he controlled the ball with his chest and then turned and fired into the upper right portion of the goal from about 25 yards out to beat Lakers goalkeeper Duncan Atwood.

“We came out thinking we were the better team, and that’s what happened tonight,” Rodriguez said.

The Vikings — who knocked off Aloha 2-1 in an Oct. 29 play-in game to make the 32-team playoff field — continued to prove it in the second half, working together on some beautiful combination play that sometimes left Lake Oswego’s defenders turning in circles trying to keep up.

Ortiz, positioned out wide in the midfield, added his goals in the second half to provide the away side with some breathing room. He scored his first-ever varsity goal in the 43rd minute, less than three minutes into the second half, after Reggie Lopez fired a cross from the left side of the field.

The ball passed by one Viking, but Ortiz timed his run to the far post perfectly, and he slotted his shot past Atwood and into the lower left corner of the net to provide Forest Grove with a two-goal advantage.

And later in the period, the slight sophomore put the exclamation point on the evening with a beauty of a score in the 72nd minute. The goal came at the end of a lovely sequence of team play that was working so well for the Vikings.

Lopez, who gave the Lakers fits during the second half, started the sequence with another ball from near the end line on the left side of the goal. He sent a pass toward the top of the penalty box to Rodriguez, who proceeded to flick the ball to his right to Ortiz.

Once again golden, Ortiz laced an arcing chip shot from around the top of the penalty area into the left side of the net. The goal left him sprinting for the Vikings’ bench on the touchline, and he vaulted into Simonetti’s arms for a celebratory bear hug.

“It was pretty good,” the soft-spoken Ortiz said after the game. “I’m pretty happy because I scored two goals.”

Those two goals ensured that the Vikings walked away winners and into the second round — though that was not because Lake Oswego did not have its chances. Forest Grove mostly kept the Lakers in check, but Nick Turner tested Forest Grove goalkeeper Ricardo Torres on a free kick from distance early in the first half, and Alex Krenek bounced a shot off the right post about a minute before Ortiz’s second goal.

For the second round, Forest Grove drew a familiar foe in Beaverton, itself a 2-1 upset winner at West Salem on Saturday. The Beavers knocked off the Vikings 2-0 in both teams’ season opener back on Sept. 3, though several Forest Grove players were not available for that match. The rematch — with a berth in this Saturday’s Class 6A quarterfinals at stake — was slated for Tuesday evening at Beaverton. Results were not available at press time.

As for Saturday, it was a night that left Simonetti feeling pretty good.

“I have the best kids. My kids are awesome,” Simonetti said. “They go over the limits, and they do a fantastic job. I’m really proud.”

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