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Vikings wrap up season with all-league picks

Cristian Romero's first team award leads six Forest Grove boys on the all-league squad


Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Forest Grove senior midfielder Cristian Romero was recently selected to the Greater Valley Conference boys soccer all-star team. At the end of yet another fine season for the Forest Grove boys soccer team, a total of six Vikings were named to this year’s Greater Valley Conference all-star team.

Playmaking midfielder Cristian Romero led the group with a first team selection. The senior was one of 13 players named to the top squad.

Teammates Diego Gaspar Perez, Junior Sanchez-Villarreal and Ricky Torres were all second team picks, while midfielders Carlos Aguilar and Brandon Olvera were honorable mention selections.

A deft-footed senior, Romero picked up his first career first-team honor. Forest Grove coach Angelo Simonetti described Romero, a center midfielder, as the brain of this year’s squad more than once, and indeed, Romero often pulled the strings to orchestrate the Vikings’ play. Midway through the season, he scored a goal in five consecutive games, which Simonetti said was a first during his tenure.

Sanchez-Villarreal, a junior, typically played a defensive role in the midfield but also figured into the Vikings’ attack with potent headers and a dangerous ability for long throw-ins. While Gaspar Perez is just a freshman, he demonstrated a knack for scoring big goals, including the tying goal in a wild 3-2 comeback victory against Hillsboro in September and the game’s first goal in a 3-2 loss against league rival McMinnville in the league finale. Despite having to deal with a leg injury for part of the season, Torres remained a reliable shot-blocker in goal and leaves the program as a three-year starter.

Aguilar and Olvera often functioned as the team’s glue in the middle of the pitch, and the all-league honor was the first for each player.

That group paced Forest Grove to an 8-7-1 overall record and sixth place in the GVC, which was highly competitive. The Vikings lost only to the top four teams in the conference. As the No. 26 seed in the Class 6A playoffs, they lost 4-0 to No. 7 David Douglas in the first round.

Though the Vikings will graduate nine players off this year’s squad, the future is bright, as a number of talented youngsters who saw plenty of playing time are eligible to return, including Olvera, Gaspar Perez, Daniel Tapia and Diego Contreras, as well as current juniors Sanchez-Villarreal and Ivan Garcia.

North Salem senior Alexis Cervantes was named the GVC player of the year, and McNary head man Miguel Camarena received coach of the year honors.

Forest Grove girls nab a total of four all-league awards, led by a pair of second teamers

Four Vikings were named to the Greater Valley Conference girls soccer all-star team earlier this month.

Forest Grove did not land a player on the first team, but high-scoring sophomore forward Emily Gutierrez and junior midfielder Veronica Campuzano, often the team’s engine, both made the second squad. Campuzano was a second team pick in the now-defunct Pacific Conference in 2013, while the all-league honor is the first for Gutierrez.

Junior forward Ashton Carow, who joined Campuzano as a Pacific Conference second team pick last year, received honorable mention status, as did senior defender Emily Peters.

That quartet helped power Forest Grove to a greatly improved 2014 as well as some school history.

The Vikings went just 4-8-2 overall and 0-7 in league play a year ago. This season, led by a sizable junior class, the team improved to 10-8 overall and 3-5 in GVC play. It also pushed eventual league champion South Salem and third-place finisher Sprague in one-goal losses.

But Forest Grove saved its best for last. After winning a play-in contest 2-1 against Oregon City, the Vikings took the No. 31 seed — out of 32 teams — into the Class 6A state playoffs. The underdog role suited the squad just fine, though, as Forest Grove pulled off consecutive upsets against No. 2 South Medford and No. 15 Wilson before falling 1-0 to eventual state finalist North Medford in the quarterfinals.Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Forest Grove sophomore forward Emily Gutierrez was a second team selection to the Greater Valley Conference girls soccer all-star team after leading the Vikings in scoring this season.

In both playoff wins, the Vikings held their opponent scoreless through 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods before winning on penalty kicks. The victory against the Trojans propelled the program into the quarterfinals for the first time in school history.

Though they did not procure all-league honors this time around, a number of other key players should return in 2015, including juniors Mayra Pantoja — a goalkeeper who came up big in both playoff shootouts — Cristal Sanchez and Anahi Cordero-Carlin, as well as sophomores Kassy Perdew and Natalia Blanco-Villanueva.

McMinnville senior midfielder Carlisle Topping picked up the GVC player of the year award. Kevin Plechl of Sprague and Jaime Rodriquez of West Salem shared coach of the year honors.

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