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Woodburn State Champs!

Posted November 22nd, 2010 in Uncategorized by steve

In 1986, the first year that the Woodburn Bulldogs made the state playoffs, Ronald Reagan was president and Pixar Studios had just opened. The kids from the 2010 team were not yet born. The town of Woodburn was a small, mostly white agricultural town.

Over the next 25 years, partially as a result of new federal laws signed by Reagan, the town of  Woodburn transformed into Oregon’s largest Hispanic community. And every year, the Bulldogs made it back to the playoffs, setting a post-season record unparalleled in the state of Oregon by any high school team in any sport.

But, Los Perros could never win it all. Three trips to the state championship resulted in three losses. They called it The Woodburn Curse.

The curse ended Saturday, November 20th, when the Woodburn Bulldogs defeated long-time rival Corvallis Spartans 2-1. Congratulations Bulldogs! It’s been a long time coming.

Let’s not wait 25 more years for the next one.

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Woodburn Bulldogs Advance to State Championship!

Posted November 17th, 2010 in Uncategorized by steve

From the Woodburn Independent:

WOODBURN — The magical season continues. The Woodburn boys soccer team will play for the Class 5A state title Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium at 1 p.m. after beating Liberty 3-1 Tuesday afternoon at Woodburn High School.

The ’Dogs will play a familiar opponent too, as fellow Mid-Willamette Conference rival Corvallis routed another MWC team, Crescent Valley, 3-0 on Tuesday in the other semifinal matchup. Corvallis is the defending 5A state champion.

Continue reading here:

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Woodburn wins first playoff game

Posted November 10th, 2010 in Uncategorized by steve

The Woodburn Bulldogs, ranked #1 in Oregon’s 5A classification, beat Milwaukie 5-0 in Tuesday night’s playoff game. The Bulldogs are next scheduled to play against Sherwood on November 13th. This year marks Los Perros 25th straight post-season appearance, a state record among all team sports.

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Woodburn Bulldogs ready for postseason ranked #1 in Oregon

Posted November 3rd, 2010 in Uncategorized by steve

From the Oregonian newspaper:

Woodburn appears ready for a boys soccer state playoff run after winning the Class 5A Mid-Willamette Conference championship with a couple of playoff-type wins.

The Bulldogs clinched the title Tuesday with a 2-1 win over 2009 state championCorvallis. A tie would have been enough to give the title to Woodburn, No. 1 in theOregon School  Activities Association power rankings. But the Bulldogs pressed forward and won when Jaime Veles   scored with 1:20 remaining in the game to break a 1-1 tie.

A week ago Tuesday, Woodburn (7-0-0, 21 points) put itself in position to take the Mid-Willamette with a 2-0 win overCrescent Valley, the eventual second-place team. Corvallis (5-2-0, 15) finished third, one point behind the Raiders (5-1-1, 16).

“Those were state- final type games,” Woodburn coach Luis Del Rio said of playing Crescent Valley (No. 4 OSAA) and Corvallis (No. 7).

Yet, Del Rio said he’s nervous heading into the postseason, which starts  Saturday with an elimination game against Bend (4-8-1).

“We might be overconfident,” Del Rio said. “We’re playing a weaker team on paper, and they might start relaxing themselves and not respond to that kind of team.”

Del Rio said if the Bulldogs take care of business against Bend, “then I can say our confidence is the way we want.”

Del Rio has reason for concern. Woodburn has been ousted in its first playoff game the past two years, including 2008, when the Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 in the state.

– Nick Daschel

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Oregonian article on Woodburn soccer

Posted October 28th, 2010 in Uncategorized by steve

From the Oregonian newspaper:

If Portland refers to itself as “Soccer City USA,” what should people call Woodburn?

The high school capital of soccer?

It’s hard to argue any other school in Oregon has more passion for soccer thanWoodburn.

In 2006, for example, many teachers at Woodburn wanted to cap off the school year by allowing students to watchWorld Cup matches in the classroom. According to Mike Flannigan, a Woodburn teacher and a former boys soccer coach, the school administration was against the idea because it didn’t want the community to think the school wasn’t educating students on the final day of classes.

Word leaked to the homes via students, and Flannigan said parents were in an uproar. Many said if the school didn’t let students watch the World Cup in class, they would stay home and watch.

What happened?

“We watched World Cup,” Flannigan said. “Would you see that in any other community?”

Big turnout

In Woodburn athletics, any discussion about success and excellence begins and ends with boys soccer. The Bulldogs have made 24 consecutive state playoff appearances, reaching the championship game in 1987, 1988 and 1998. The school typically has 80 to 100 boys turn out for soccer, more than for any other sport at Woodburn, including football. Woodburn fields four soccer teams, something only a few other schools in Oregon offer.

“The thing that’s interesting to me is they always have 80 kids or more, and I’m lucky to get 60 out, and we’ve had a pretty good program,” said Corvalliscoach John Callahan, whose Spartans won the Class 5A title in 2009. “It’s always a tough game against them. They love playing soccer, and it shows. They’re out there having a good time.”

Boys soccer is a beacon at a school where football hasn’t made a state playoff appearance since 1973, volleyball has never won a state tournament trophy and most of the spring sports teams struggle to win games. The only sport at Woodburn to show modest success outside of boys soccer is boys basketball, which has five playoff appearances during the past decade but hasn’t qualified for the state tournament.

Boys soccer is such a draw at Woodburn that the school used to charge admission to games. Athletic director Greg Baisch said that practice stopped two years ago because Woodburn was the only school in the Mid-Willamette Conference to charge an admission fee.

Free is a very good price to watch the 2010 Bulldogs.

Thanks to a tough schedule that it has successfully navigated, Woodburn is No. 1 in the Oregon School Activities Association’s Class 5A rankings. The Bulldogs are 9-1 heading into Tuesday’s game at Crescent Valley in Corvallis, and among their victims are Wilsonville (OSAA Class 5A No. 2), South Salem (Class 6A No. 1), Hood River Valley (5A No. 12) and Churchill (5A No. 13). Woodburn’s lone loss came to Wilson, No. 9 in Class 5A.

Woodburn is not just winning, it is winning by a lot. Eight of its nine wins have been by a margin of at least three goals, including a 5-0 win over South Salem.

Why is soccer the sport of choice at Woodburn?

The easy answer is the ethnic mix of the school. Of the some 1,300 students at Woodburn, about 75 percent are Latino. Woodburn coach Luis Del Rio said the soccer program includes a handful of non-Latino players; on the varsity, the only non-Latino is freshman Michael Hobson.

“The Caucasian kids aren’t as serious about soccer as Latinos,” Flannigan said. “The parents get out and watch their kids during the week, and the kids watch their uncles and dads play on the weekend.”

It hasn’t always been that way at Woodburn, though the Latino influence helped enhance the program.

Baisch coached the program from 1979 to 1987, when Brian Flannigan, Mike’s father, took over the program. During the formative years in the 1980s and early 1990s, the program was about 30 percent Latino, Mike Flannigan said.

Baisch never envisioned soccer would become as popular or successful at it has at Woodburn. The turning point, he said, came during the mid-1980s, when Woodburn moved from a league that included state power Catlin Gabel, Gladstone and Estacada to an easier league.

“All of a sudden, the kids got some confidence, they were winning, and they got to the end of the season, and they still thought they could win,” Baisch said.

The Flannigans ran the program from 1988 to 2008. Brian Flannigan coached the team until 2008, when he handed it off to his son, a former Bulldogs goalkeeper. Del Rio, a longtime Woodburn club coach, took over in 2009 when Flannigan stepped away for increasing family commitments.

Changing style

As the Latino influence grew, the team’s style changed. Because most of the players are short and quick, Woodburn plays a crisp, short passing game, trying to keep plays in the air to a minimum.

“If we start playing in the air and lob balls, we’re in trouble,” Del Rio said.

Del Rio makes no pretense about where he’s taking the program. He wants to win a state championship.

“I tell the team that we need to start sending messages,” Del Rio said. “We’ve been playing like a very good team, and we’re just dominating opponents.”

Del Rio and some of his players believe the student body has become apathetic toward the boys soccer program because of its recent state playoff flameouts. Since playing for the Class 3A/2A/1A championship in 1998, Woodburn’s best year was 2006, when it reached the semifinals. The Bulldogs have lost their playoff opener four times since 1998, including the past two seasons. In 2008, Woodburn was ranked No. 1 in the state, only to lose to Glencoe in its opening game.

Senior Jaime Veles said the school’s soccer and football players have a running joke.

“We make fun of the football players because they haven’t been to the playoffs, then they’ll say, ‘Yeah, but you guys make the playoffs and nothing happens,’” Velez said.

“We’re trying to change that. We want to shut everybody up because we have the potential to do something more than just get to the playoffs.”

Winning the Mid-Willamette title for the third time in four years is not enough for Woodburn.

“Not being a (state) champion this year, that would be a big disappointment for everybody in my program,” Del Rio said.

Baisch said he recently received the ultimate comment about Woodburn’s soccer program, even if it was a bit backhanded. At halftime of Woodburn’s game against Lebanon earlier in October, Lebanon coach Dave Albion walked past Baisch after talking to his team.

“He said, ‘Someday, I’m going to beat you guys.’ He really wanted to beat Woodburn, like that would be a feather in his cap,” Baisch said. “It really meant something.”

– Nick Daschel

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Boys in Newsweek

Posted June 18th, 2010 in Uncategorized by steve

Freelance journalist Michael Miller, based in Mexico City, wrote a piece for Newsweek about the U.S.-Mexico soccer rivalry that includes a couple of quotes from yours truly.

‘Perhaps the final straw for many Mexicans is that despite closing its borders, the U.S. is more eager than ever to scout for transnational talent. Two of the American team’s most exciting players—Hércules Gómez and José Torres—are Mexican-American. “These types of players used to fall through the cracks in the U.S. but not anymore,” said Steve Wilson, author of The Boys From Little Mexico, a new book about a Latino boys team in Oregon.

‘“We tend to draw black and white lines in terms of people being fans of Mexico or America, but it isn’t like that at all,” said Wilson of the immigrants he followed for his book. “Although most of the guys heavily favor Mexico, if Mexico gets knocked out of the World Cup, the U.S. is going to be their next favorite.”’

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Boys on A Pretty Move blog

Posted June 8th, 2010 in Uncategorized by steve

Lynda Rucker, Portland based soccer writer, wrote this short and flattering blog entry about Boys:

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