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Vikings blast South Salem

Forest Grove flashes some offensive firepower in a 4-0 conference victory

Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Forest Grove's Javier Sanchez-Villarreal goes airborne for a header between two South Salem defenders during last Thursday's soccer match.The Forest Grove boys soccer team entered last Thursday’s home matchup against South Salem in need of a little redemption.

Three days prior, the Vikings rallied from a two-goal deficit on the road against No. 7 West Salem — one of the league favorites — in the second half, only to see the Titans put a third score away and send Forest Grove to a 3-2 defeat in its Greater Valley Conference opener.

“Last game, we didn’t play bad, we conceded really bad goals,” Junior Sanchez-Villarreal said Thursday night. “There were mistakes, bad mistakes, so today we were just trying to get out and redeem ourselves, because we’re bottom of the league right now.

“So we’re just trying to get back on top and hoping that West Salem loses, so we could either be with them or win the league.”

If the Vikings keep playing like they did against the Saxons, they could well be at the top of the league by the time late October rolls around.

In a game in which neither team dominated possession, Forest Grove did better by far at putting away its chances, getting a key goal from Sanchez-Villarreal late in the first half and eventually dismantling South Salem for a 4-0 victory.

Coupled with Monday’s 2-0 victory at Sprague, the result lifted the No. 11 Vikings to 6-2-1 overall and 2-1 in the GVC. The Saxons, meanwhile, upset West Salem 3-1 on Monday, muddying the conference standings and tying them with Forest Grove for fourth place.

“This league is awesome,” Forest Grove coach Angelo Simonetti said. “Every single game is a good game to watch. South Salem’s a good team.”

The Vikings proved better, though they took a while to break through.

The two teams traded looks at goal for most of the opening half before Sanchez-Villarreal, a junior defensive midfielder, took a crack from distance in the 34th minute. The shot looked like more of a half-chance than anything, but it deflected off another player and then dinked off the right post before bouncing over the goal line past Saxons goalkeeper Anthony Richard-Bassett.

“I think the goalkeeper thought it was going to go out, but once it hit the floor, it spun back in,” Sanchez-Villarreal said of his first goal of the season.

Early in the second half, the Saxons appeared intent on equalizing, and they got perhaps their best look of the match about seven minutes in.

After the visitors maintained possession for a considerable length of time, Vicente Ramos Perez got loose and tried to flick the ball over Forest Grove keeper Ricky Torres. The shot hit off the crossbar but not far away, leading to a flurry in front of the goal but eventually no harm for the home team, though Torres did exit the match shortly afterward on account of an ailing leg.

But as has often been the case this fall, someone else stepped into the available spot for the Vikings.

Playing in his first varsity game, Nathan Lizier-Zmudzinski — usually the JV keeper — shut out the Saxons from there, giving his teammates the chance to add to the lead.

One of the team’s youngsters, Dorian Contreras Bran, was more than happy to do so. In the 54th minute, the freshman found himself just outside the left corner of the penalty area with the ball at his feet and no one playing him tightly.

So he decided to loft a shot toward goal, and it sailed into the upper right corner over backup keeper Saul Dimas-Camacho for a 2-0 lead.

“I don’t know. I just got the ball and shot,” Contreras Bran said about his first varsity goal. “I wanted to make the goal, you know. It felt amazing.”

Cristian Romero added a third goal about four minutes later on a free kick from 23 yards out. Appearing to catch Dimas-Camacho and the South Salem defense off guard, he took the restart quickly and chipped into the left side of the goal.

“It was a surprise goal,” Romero noted. “I’ve been practicing on that. I practice hard and thank God it came to a goal.”

The Vikings, namely Villarreal-Sanchez, were not quite done, though. The final score came on yet another set piece in the 73rd minute, when Adrian Garcia-Garfias took a free kick deep along the left touch line. Sanchez-Villarreal was at the far post to meet the ball, redirecting it toward the far post for the final tally.

On Monday against Sprague, Forest Grove got goals, one in each half, from Contreras Bran and Romero for their fourth win in five matches.

The Vikings are back in action tonight, when they host North Salem at 7:15 p.m. at Dick Hendricks Stadium.

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