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Bulldogs win 3rd Straight State Championship!

Posted November 25th, 2012 in Uncategorized by steve

Class 5A boys soccer: Woodburn completes three-peat by beating Mountain View 2-1

Jerry Ulmer, The Oregonian, November 17, 2012 1:48 p.m.

Woodburn celebrates winning the Class 5A boys soccer state title. - (Norm Maves Jr., special to The Oregonian)

HILLSBORO — Woodburn’s supremacy in Class 5A boys soccer, firmly established the last two years, seemed a bit tenuous early this season.

Luis Del Rio, who coached the Bulldogs to back-to-back state titles, had left to take over the men’s team at George Fox University. Replacing him was a first-year varsity coach in Carlos Horcos, who moved from Chile two years ago.

“At the beginning, we had a couple of struggles,” senior forward Luis Rangel said. “But we got past them.”

The Bulldogs adjusted to Horcos’ passing-game style and once again rose to the top, completing their third consecutive championship run Saturday with a 2-1 win over Mountain View of Bend in the Class 5A final at Hillsboro Stadium. Woodburn (15-0-2) extended its unbeaten streak to 35 and improved to 50-2-2 in the last three seasons.

“I like challenge, and I like soccer, and I went to Woodburn because it was a challenge,” Horcos said. “I treat the guys like professionals, and they get the message and respond every day. And here we are.”

Junior Michael Hobson said it was just a matter of time before it came together for the Bulldogs.

“The style of play was a little different, but we adjusted to it,” Hobson said. “All of us have played all different types of soccer. He gave leeway with us, too. We would say, ‘We’re used to it this way.’ He would work with us.”

Hobson and Rangel found the net in the first half as Woodburn took a 2-0 lead and held off the hard-charging Cougars (11-5-2) down the stretch.

Hobson scored in the 19th minute, rebounding a hard shot by junior Cesar Ramos that bounced off junior goalkeeper Levi Schlapfer. Rangel added his team-leading 12th goal in the 33rd minute, splitting three defenders and firing past Schlapfer from point-blank range.

“It was one of my better goals,” Rangel said.

The Bulldogs pulled back to protect a 2-0 lead, and Mountain View, which entered with a Class 5A-best 65 goals, began to threaten in the second half. Freshman Zach Emerson led repeated charges, but the Cougars couldn’t put the ball past Woodburn junior goalkeeper Kevin Courtney-Vera.

Finally, with 2:50 remaining, junior Hudson Newell scored on a header off an assist from freshman Taylor Willman to make it 2-1. Mountain View had a chance to tie a minute later, but Courtney-Vera snagged the ball out of the air just in time to foil a header attempt by Emerson,

“It was inches,” Mountain View coach Chris Rogers said of the scoring chance.

 Woodburn finished with an 11-7 edge in shots over the Cougars, who were bidding for their first title since sharing one with Jesuit in 1999.

“I feel like we were better than them, and I still do. I just wanted five more minutes,” Rogers said. “My hat’s off to Woodburn. They got some unfortunate goals in the first half. But I thought we handled them. I really do.”

– Jerry Ulmer

From the Oregon Live website

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Woodburn player named Soccer Player of the Year

Posted December 18th, 2011 in Uncategorized by steve

Here’s a nice story by Matt Monghan from the Salem Statesman-Journal:

There was a time when Juan Martinez was all about scoring goals. It was his left foot that gave Woodburn High School its first state soccer championship a year ago.But two major changes have occurred in Martinez’s life sincethen, and as a result the senior has learned that making the assist on the field feels as good as it does off.In the last year, Martinez turned 18 and moved out of the foster care home he grew up in since the age of 7. He also became a father.

Together, these new responsibilities have the Mid-Willamette Conference player of the year thinking more about the people around him, and it’s translated to his performance on the pitch. Martinez, a striker, led Woodburn to its second consecutive Class 5A state championship this season. He scored 23 goals, but more importantly to him and his coach, he assisted on 26 more. For those accomplishments he is the Statesman Journal’s All-Mid-Valley boys soccer player of the year.

“He (Martinez) can be a goal-scoring machine, but he grew up a lot this year,” said Woodburn coach Luis Del Rio. “This year I think he understood better that helping the team actually makes him a better player than being a solo player.” The maturation process began when Martinez was emancipated from the foster care system he grew up in and his surrogate parents moved to Texas. He now lives with brother, CarlosPehr, a former standout for the Bulldogs.

Martinez says his experience with the family that cared for him and Pehr was positive, but it’s also left him with desire to help disadvantaged kids. “As a young kid I was sent into foster care and I just want to help kids to know that they can be successful if they stay focused and work hard,” Martinez said.

In a soccer-mad community like Woodburn, Martinez is a well-known local figure, but he didn’tstart playing the game until the age of 12, preferring basketball. Once he started taking soccer seriously however, he flourished. “Juan is one of the best players I have ever coached,” Del Rio said. “He is an all-around complete package player; a natural player.”

But that natural ability often resulted in Martinez forgetting about his teammates while attempting to dribble his way through all 10 defenders on the field.

Sure, he scored a lot of goals, but Del Rio says it came at the expense of making his teammates better.

“This year, everything that happened with him, it made him open his eyes and notice what life is really about,” says Del Rio. “He understands that he’s not alone; that other people are around him and depend on him.”

Martinez has participated in highly selective soccer academies for both the Portland Timbers and the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer. He currently plays for Gresham youth club EastSide United. Moving forward after high school, Martinez said he’s interested in playing collegiately in Oregon (he’s received interest from OSU, Willamette, George Fox and Warner Pacific) with an eye on eventually attempting a pro career.

But he also realizes that now his most important team is the one he leads as a father, and boyfriend to his son’s mother. “It’s not easy not living with your real parents,” Martinez says. “Becoming a parent of my own, I want to give my child a better life than I had.”

Copyright Statesman Journal 2011

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Woodburn Repeats As 5A State Champs

Posted November 20th, 2011 in youth soccer by steve

In a game they trailed at halftime, the Woodburn Bulldogs came back to defeat the Wilson Trojans 2-1 to secure their second state championship. Congrats Bulldogs!

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Woodburn is ESPN’s Team of The Week

Posted September 14th, 2011 in Uncategorized by steve

From’s David Auguste comes this short piece about Woodburn H.S., the Team of The Week:

Head coach Luis Del Rio wanted his troops to have a singular focus last fall: team achievement. A change in philosophy was necessary as Woodburn had piled up plenty of individual accolades over the years, but they failed to translate it into postseason success.

“I never saw [a full team effort] in previous teams,” says the third-year coach. “It’s not about single players. We tried to put that in their heads all year.”

The move paid off as the Bulldogs qualified for the postseason for the 24th consecutive season and advanced to the Class 5A championship game. After coming up short in three previous trips to the finals, Woodburn erased its past struggles with a thrilling 2-1 victory over Corvallis.

So what’s the plan for this season? With a team-first mentality firmly ingrained in the minds of the returning players, the coaching staff will shift its attention to increasing the competition level for a repeat bid. That effort begins with Del Rio’s son Luis Angel and senior classmate Juan Martinez.

The younger Del Rio was tough to beat in net last season and continued his stellar play in the finals, taking home ODS Player of the Game honors after recording 11 saves. His 6-foot-3 frame and athleticism was a factor for a squad that allowed 14 goals and posted seven clean sheets last fall. Martinez was the team’s leading scorer (19 goals) and netted Woodburn’s first tally just 17 minutes into the finals. Several younger players will be expected to fill voids across the roster, but coach Del Rio is confident his seniors can get them on board in time for another deep postseason run.

“We have that pressure on us to respond to the competition and defend our championship,” he says. “We will do the best we can and represent the school the best we can.”

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Upcoming Readings and Paperback

Posted September 7th, 2011 in Uncategorized by steve

The paperback edition on Boys comes out mid-October and I have two readings scheduled afterwards: October 23, 2 p.m., at Village Books in Bellingham, WA, and October 27, 7 p.m., at St. Helens Bookshop in St. Helens, OR.

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What American Soccer Needs

Posted July 12th, 2011 in Uncategorized by steve

Soccer’s split fan base is well known: upper middle-class whites and working class immigrants, mostly Latinos. Both have distinct viewing habits: Anglos tend to watch English Premiere League and MLS, Latinos tend to watch Mexican League and European teams.

The problem is not the number of viewers that soccer has. The biggest problem American soccer faces, and one it needs to overcome if soccer is going to finally get the piece of American sports attention that it so badly wants, is how to unite those disparate viewers. More than that, American soccer needs to include the vast uninterested block of American sports fans who pay no attention to futbol. Call them the Average American Sports Fan (AASF).

To the AASF, soccer is a game played by children and women. They have good reason for thinking so, since soccer is uniquely popular among children and women. However, in most of the world, soccer is a man’s sport. So, why isn’t soccer a man’s sport in the good old U.S. of A?

When men watch sports, they see a physical expression of masculinity. Revered athletes display strength, grit, determination. They are powerful, dominant, aggressive, and ruthless. We talk about athletes such as Kobe Bryant not only because of their physical abilities, but because of their mental ferocity.

Men such as Bret Favre and Cal Ripken Jr. are looked up to because they “bring their lunchpail”and have “bluecollar work eithic”.

To soccer fans worldwide, players express this type of masculinity. But the very traits that most Mexican men ascribe to soccer–grit, strength, athleticism, perseverance–are the traits that most American sports fans think that soccer lacks. Why the difference? Maybe because soccer in the U.S. did not rise to popularity out of the vacant lot and the schoolyard, the proving grounds for boys eager to display their strength and courage. Maybe it is because the most strident soccer fans in America tend to be white and educated and therefore perceived as soft. Maybe it’s because soccer is popular in Europe, and we all know what wimps the Europeans are.

The reason why is moot: professional soccer is here. We can’t go back and change the narrative. We just need to roughen it up a bit.

Americans love sports narratives that demonstrate a player’s grit and determination. Think Steve Nash in the 2010 NBA playoff games, taking the floor with one eye swollen shut and a broken nose. Think Duncan Keith, who battled on in the NHL playoffs despite having seven teeth knocked out. Think of Greg LaMonde, who won the Tour de France after being shotgunned in the thigh, or Lance Armstrong, winning after nearly dying from testicular cancer.

The narrative that the AASF applies to soccer, however, is about the lack of scoring, the flops, and the violence off the field (at least internationally). What American soccer needs is not photos of Cristiano Ronaldo and Didier Drogba stripped to their undershorts on the cover of Vanity Fair–it needs pictures of guys playing with broken arms, guys returning to the field after being carried off in a stretcher, guys with blood dripping from their ears.

This is the hurdle that American soccer needs to overcome. Somehow, MLS needs to focus on a single narrative: that soccer is hard, violent, and physical. It is. Americans just don’t know it yet.

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Boys Get Some Love From Missouri

Posted May 24th, 2011 in book review by steve

That headline could probably be read numerous ways…

But the way I want you to read it is this: The Daniel Boone Regional Library System in Missouri released their “OneRead”, the book chosen to be promoted for reading through the community. That book wasn’t Boys, it was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which seems to be on everybody’s reading list lately. But Boys made it to the Suggested Titles list, along with better known books such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Blink, and Eat, Pray, Love. I’m always thrilled when librarians give me some love (which can be read anyway you like).

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