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Forest Grove boys look sharp

What Vikings lack in experience they more than make up for with talent

 - Forest Grove senior forward Jacob Olson challenges a Parkrose player for control of a loose ball during last Thursday's nonleague soccer match.Though this Forest Grove boys soccer team little resembles that of recent seasons, it could still turn out to be a pretty good one.

“It’s looking good for us,” fourth-year coach Angelo Simonetti said Monday at practice. “We don’t have that much experience on the field right now, but we have a lot of talent.”

Indeed, the Vikings — who went 8-5-4 overall in 2013 and dumped No. 8 Lake Oswego 3-0 on the road in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs — return just two full-time starters from last season in Cristian Romero and Ricky Torres, Simonetti said. Gone are six seniors off last year’s, including two-time first team all-league pick Reggie Lopez.

Back for his senior season, Romero should be a key attacking player, while Torres returns for his third season in goal. Also back is Brandon Olvera, who received considerable playing time last year as a freshman.

Seniors Garrett Johnson and Bryan Martinez will captain the squad, which also features some young talent in freshman Diego Gaspar Perez, who netted two goals in Forest Grove’s 3-2 win Thursday against Parkrose, the Vikings’ second victory in two tries this fall. Gaspar Perez is cable of playing any attacking position, Simonetti said.

The other varsity returners from last year are Jesus Gonzalez-Lopez, Luis Garfias-Compos, Javier Sanchez-Villareal, Adrian Garcia-Garfias and Christian Calzada. Out of this year’s group, Simonetti does not really see a team leader but rather “a group of the kids are going to step up and just move this group forward and make the transition,” he explained.

The coach noted that his team got “a little taste” of what new league rivals McKay and South Salem can do at a league jamboree a couple weeks ago. With the move to the Greater Valley Conference, the Vikings are switching from one strong league to another. McKay made the semifinals of the state playoffs last year, and South Salem won it all in 2009.

“It will be a really strong and competitive league for us,” Simonetti said. “A big challenge is going to be the distance between here and the games. But it will be a good fit for us.”

Forest Grove played its only game of the week, against Century yesterday, after press deadline. The Vikings are back in action next Tuesday and Thursday with a home match against David Douglas and a road game against former Pacific Conference rival Hillsboro, respectively.


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