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Viking senior named GVC's player of year

Veronica Campuzano earns the conference's top girls soccer award

 - Forest Grove senior Veronica Campuzano winds up to take a shot during a Greater Valley Conference match against West Albany on Oct. 16.Veronica Campuzano reached rarified air this fall.

The Forest Grove soccer standout had plenty of veteran support around her, but the season she put together rose heads and tails above — even above everyone else in the league.

A senior center midfielder, Campuzano was named the Greater Valley Conference player of the year at the end of the regular season, and last month she added Class 6A first team all-state honors to her list of awards and accomplishments this season.

The appearance on the league’s top squad was a first for both Campuzano and senior forward Ashton Carow. Both girls were named second team all-league in the Pacific Conference as sophomores and earned second team status in the GVC last year before demonstrating their class as seniors this fall.

Devilishly deceptive and extremely patient on the ball, Campuzano may well be the first Forest Grove girls soccer player to garner first team all-state honors. Brandi Dawson — who went on to play for the Oregon State women’s soccer team — was a second team all-state pick back in 2009.

Campuzano picked some of her side’s biggest games to come up with her greatest performances.

Midway through October, she recorded a hat trick to help the Vikings thump West Albany, which had entered the match undefeated in GVC play. She also scored three of Forest Grove’s four goals in the state playoffs, including two in a 3-1 comeback victory against Clackamas and the third on a beautiful strike from long range that lifted the Vikings into a momentary tie against Lakeridge in a round of 16 loss.

As for Carow, she brought speed to burn and lots of energy up front. She also scored in that upset of the Cavaliers and often combined beautifully with her teammates, setting up goals with her playmaking ability.

The Vikings’ other all-league picks were junior forward Emily Gutierrez, who made the second team after going on a goal-scoring tear early in the season, senior defender Anahi Cordero-Carlin and sophomore midfielder Katie Rebsom. Cordero-Carlin and Rebsom were honorable mention selections.

West Albany’s Erik Ihde was named the GVC coach of the year.

The 2015 season was another banner one for Forest Grove. Though the Vikings fell one round short of where they advanced in the state playoffs last year, their body of work was arguably more impressive. They wrapped up the year at 10-5-1 overall and 5-2-1 in the GVC, good for fourth place.

The Vikings served notice in their season opener, when they lost 1-0 at the last minute to 2014 state champion Tualatin. The Timberwolves went on to finish second at state this year.

Forest Grove also built up a six-game undefeated streak in October, which included that blistering of West Albany.

Despite a solid record, the Vikings entered the state playoffs as just the No. 24 seed, but they were no strangers to playing the underdog role after pulling off three straight postseason upsets a year ago.

They were back at their old tricks on Halloween, when they raced past No. 9 Clackamas. Four days later, after Campuzano equalized partway through the second half, the Vikings gave up a goal with just more than a minute to play in double overtime for a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to the No. 8 Pacers.

By then, opposing coaches knew exactly what Campuzano in particular was capable of.