Wildcats win first conference championship since joining NWOC

by: JEFF GOODMAN - Junior midfielder Jason Johnson (left) advances the ball Oct. 29 at Randall Stadium. The Wilsonville boys soccer team clinched a league title with a dominant rout of Milwaukie.The Wilsonville boys soccer program has fielded plenty of talented teams since joining the Northwest Oregon Conference in 2006.

But this year’s edition stands out in a way the others never did.

The Wildcats won a conference title for the first time since leaving the old Tri-Valley League, finalizing the feat with an 8-1 rout of Milwaukie at home Oct. 29.

It seemed like a fitting regular-season finale for Wilsonville (10-3-1, 6-0-1 in the NWOC), which went undefeated against seven league opponents while outscoring them by a combined total of 29-7. Its only blemish was a 2-2 tie on the road against rival Sherwood.

“This is not the most talented bunch we’ve had over the 13 years I’ve coached here,” coach Ian Reschke said. “But this team’s collective force is comparable to those of 2002 to 2004, which included a state-finalist group. The senior leadership has been exceptional this year, and I have to say it’s the best I’ve ever seen as a player or coach.”

Of course, the fourth-ranked Wildcats hope to parlay their recent success into a prolonged postseason run. They earned an automatic bid to the Class 5A playoffs and were scheduled to host a first-round match Nov. 5 at Randall Stadium.

Reschke said some of his players took advantage of the preceding days to heal nagging injuries.

“We want to go into the state playoffs as close to 100-percent full-strength as possible,” he said after the win over Milwaukie. “I’d say the last few games of the year we have been at about 90-percent due to lingering injuries with several key players. Other than rest, we will keep getting touches on the ball in practice and just try to stay sharp. We will not be making any major adjustments for the playoffs.”

This is a team that entered the season without 12 members of last year’s roster, including its top two scorers in current college player Nick Pinto and Portland Timbers academy player Rene Hernandez. And yet it managed the program’s most prolific offensive effort since Sept. 6, 2007, when it walloped Willamette 8-3 in preseason play.

Senior forwards Timmy Bourque and McKinnley Alvarez each scored two goals for Wilsonville. Four others players added one goal apiece against the overmatched Mustangs (3-10, 1-6).

The Wildcats took control with five goals in the first half, maintaining possession most of the way.

In the 13th minute, senior forward Kyle Roberts beat Milwaukie goalkeeper Randall Sam to a pass from Bourque and scored on an open net to give Wilsonville a 1-0 lead. Bourque added another goal five minutes later, finishing a corner kick by Carlos Ulloa.

Junior midfielder Adam Kane joined the barrage in the 20th minute, taking advantage of a defensive mistake by the Mustangs and finding the back of the net to extend his team’s lead to 3-0.

In the 32nd minute, Alvarez put away a rocket from the right wing after freshman midfielder Edgar Hernandez stole an in-bounds pass by Milwaukie. Senior forward Joevanny Garcia capped the first-half onslaught with a goal about three minutes later.

“I was glad that some of our non-regulars were able to get significant time on the field,” Reschke said.

The Mustangs notched their only goal of the match when sophomore Giovanni Hernandez directed a ball past Wildcats goalkeeper Trevyn Vermillier in the 36th minute, cutting their deficit to 5-1.

Wilsonville, whose lineup in the second half featured numerous reserves, responded with three more goals after halftime.

Sam Bullock targeted a spot in the lower left corner of the net and connected in the 50th minute, giving the Wildcats a 6-1 advantage. Teammates celebrated the sophomore’s first goal of the season by flipping him upside-down when he returned to the bench shortly thereafter.

Bourque logged his second goal about a minute later, and Alvarez had the final scoring play with about eight minutes left in the match.

Milwaukie rarely threatened on the attack, making for relatively uneventful nights for Wilsonville’s goalkeepers. Vermillier was preceded in the box by sophomore starter Quinn Everts and followed by junior Bricker Like.

Reschke also praised the efforts Ben Scott, saying the senior’s “in-your-face presence put pressure on Milwaukie all night.”

Meanwhile, Wilsonville’s midfielders and forwards made a concerted effort late in the game to create offensive chances for freshman Calvin Lucas, who was appearing in his first varsity contest.

Teammates cheered his every move from the bench, the ticking clock serving as the only thing keeping them from celebrating a league championship.

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