Woodburn wins fourth consecutive conference title, prepares for state tournament

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn freshman Anthony Santillan fights for possession of the ball in Tuesday night's first-round win over the Sherwood Spartans. The Bulldogs beat Sherwood 3-0 and will host the Putnam Knights in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs this Saturday.After closing out the regular season with a 3-1 win over Corvallis on Oct. 29, the Woodburn boys soccer team earned the top seed in the 5A playoffs by finishing the year atop the OSAA rankings.

Seniors Dago Diaz, Jesse Martin and Arturo Hernandez each scored in the victory over the Spartans, marking the Bulldogs’ 32nd straight win over a conference opponent.

In Woodburn's first year under head coach Stan Baker, the Bulldogs have cut a swath through Mid-Willamette Conference. Under Baker's watch, the Bulldogs have doubled down on playing a possession-based style that takes advantage of the team's technical strengths while simultaneously keeping the ball away from opposing offenses.

"Our goal is to defend as a team higher up the field away from our goal," said Baker. "We have worked on getting orchestrated pressure on the ball."

The results of have been impressive. Woodburn has given up 13 goals on the season, including just three in conference play - a league record since Woodburn moved to the 5A category in the middle of the last decade, said Baker.

"We completely changed the way we defend from any time in the past," said Baker. "It might have taken some time to come together but with only 13 goals given up all season we did quite well.

The No. 1-ranked Bulldogs (12-1-2, 7-0 Mid-Willamette) earned a bye through the play-in round of the playoffs and has home field advantage throughout the tournament after claiming the team’s fourth consecutive league title last week.

While the team has many veteran players who have contributed to each of the Bulldogs' past three state championships, Woodburn has been blessed with an influx of talent from the freshman and sophomore class this season. The Bulldogs enter this year's playoffs in a unique position of being a team filled with veteran leadership while also boasting a handful of key contributors who are getting their first taste of the postseason.

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn sophomore Eric Diaz and the rest of the Bulldog soccer team will have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, starting with the teams Tuesday game scheduled against the Sherwood Spartans."The younger players definitely respect what the veterans have done in the past, but the veterans can see that the younger players bring a quality to the team that can help us win games," said Baker. "Everyone seems to understand that by supporting each other and working hard in training that we will become a better team."

Woodburn hosted the Sherwood Spartans (5-9-2, 3-3-1 Northwest Oregon), who beat Franklin 2-1 last Saturday in the play-in round to qualify for the playoffs. The Bulldogs recorded their eighth shutout of the season against the Spartans, building a 2-0 lead in the first half en route to a 3-0 victory.

The win puts Woodburn in the quarterfinal round at home Saturday against the Putnam Kingsmen (8-7-1, 4-2-1 Northwest Oregon), who beat No. 8 South Albany 2-1 in their first-round game Tuesday night.

Although Woodburn has yet to lose an elmination playoff game in years, the threat of a season-ending loss is certainly a thought that puts additional pressure on the team in November. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, the team has been able to spread its offensive load between various players, making it impossible for opposing teams to shut down Woodburn by focusing on just one particular players.

"This is especially true in a single elimination format," said Baker. "If someone is not on, there is always another player to score.

"It is also encouraging that some of our players leading the league in scoring are freshmen and sophomores," he continued. "This bodes well for the future."

Contract Publishing

Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine