by: PHIL HAWKINS - Freshman defender/midfielder Maya Renner is one of two-first year players (along with goalkeeper Marjerle Mathis) to make the varsity squad of the Woodburn girls soccer team.The 2012 Woodburn girls soccer team was young, and it showed on the field.

With just three seniors on the team, the Bulldogs finished the season with three wins and ended the year losing four straight to place sixth in the Mid-Willamette Conference.

This year is going to be different.

Bless with a year of experience, this year’s Bulldogs have the talent and know-how to get back to the playoffs after making it to play-in round from 2009-11.

“I got a pretty good group of juniors,” said head coach Carlos Menezes. “These girls have been playing varsity since they were freshmen, so they’ve been coming up together.”

In total, the Woodburn girls soccer team’s junior class is a deep one, with 11 players making the varsity roster this year.

Menezes expects solid play from veterans Zuleika Vazques and Katie Rivas, an Honorable Mention selection in the Mid-Willamette Conference last year. Junior forward Alyssa Castro should also give the Bulldogs a powerful presence toward the front of the field.

“If she’s healthy, she’s going to make an impact,”?said Menezes.

Along with Rivas, sophomore Kathya Mendez was an Honorable Mention in 2012, and returns to Woodburn for a shot at one of the top spots in the conference.

“We want to be on top of our league this year, and I think we can be,” said Menezes. “With the athletes we have, I think we’re ready. We should be top three this year.”

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Head coach Carlos Menezes wants the Bulldogs to finish in the top three in league this year.That could be a tall order for the Bulldogs. In recent history, the closest Woodburn has come to finishing among the top three teams in the Mid-Willamette was a fourth-place finish in 2008 when the team finished 8-6-1 overall and 3-3-1 in league play.

To achieve their goal, the Bulldogs will need to find a way to break through the stranglehold on the conference that is currently held by Corvallis,?West Albany and Crescent Valley. For nearly 10 straight years, those three teams have finished 1-2-3 in some order.

For Menezes, though, this should be the year when his team can finally knock one of those teams out and place the Bulldogs in the top three.

“I think with the players we have, we should be able to play with anybody,” said Menezes.

Woodburn will start the season Friday at McNary before hosting North Salem Tuesday in the home opener.

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