Bulldogs shut out Hood River to enter conference play on a high note

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn defender Jackie Vera clears the ball in the Bulldogs' 2-0 victory over Hood River in the team's final non-conference game of the season. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak, as Woodburn enters league play with a 4-3 record.The Woodburn girls soccer team entered their final non-conference game of the season Wednesday against Hood River Valley on the heels of a three-game losing streak. After starting the season with a strong defense — limiting their first three opponents to one goal combined — the Bulldogs gave up nine goals in their next three games, all losses.

Woodburn helped erase the memory of those losses with a 2-0 home victory over the Hood River Valley Eagles, giving the Bulldogs (4-3) a winning record entering conference play this week.

Zuly Vasquez scored the first goal on an assist by Brenda Gonzalez, while Jessica Torres took a pass from Giselle Lopez-Ixta to bring the team to its final margin of victory. The win was Woodburn’s third shutout of the season.

The victory snapped the team’s three-game losing streak. The most recent loss came Sept. 23 against the No. 3-ranked Wilsonville Wildcats, who dominated the Bulldogs in a 5-1 win. Woodburn’s lone goal came on a penalty kick by Katie Rivas.

Outside of the loss to Wilsonville, coach Carlos Menezes has been pleased with the team’s performance this season.

“We had control of the ball in all of the games so far, except for the game against Wilsonville,” he said.

In addition to the game against Wilsonville, the Bulldogs’ losses have come to No. 10 St. Helens and 6A Glencoe. Together, the three teams have a combined record of 11-5-3, giving the Bulldogs a chance to test their mettle against difficult opponents before opening conference play this week.

“I wanted some difficult pre-season games to test our strength and weaknesses and I think we got them,” said Menezes. “I prefer to lose some games and learn from them than win easy games and not benefit from the wins.”

Woodburn is attempting to make a playoff push after ending last season on a four-game slide that kept the Bulldogs out of the play-in round for the first time in four years. From 2009-2011, the Bulldogs qualified for three straight play-in games, but failed to tally any post-season wins. Menezes wants to change that this season, and he hopes a difficult non-conference schedule will give Woodburn practice against the kind of competition they will see if they make the playoffs.

“To finish the pre-season with only wins and end the season with an easy winning record is in no way beneficial to the program,” he said. “Our goal at this point is to go far into the playoffs and to gain respect as a program in the state.”

The Bulldogs open conference play Thursday at home against the No. 8 South Albany Rebels (4-2-1).

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