By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– Two powerhouse teams met once more on the pitch Thursday night in Stayton, when you think High School Soccer on the list are Woodburn Boys Soccer and Stayton Boys Soccer.
As last year showed, it was State Finals-caliber of soccer when these two teams bang heads against one another as the Eagles soared in the 2-0 combustible game entering the weekend ahead.
“They know that we’re just as good as they are and we know that they’re a team that are going to come out compete every day. I think next game is going to be just as tough and it’s going to be a better game,” said Omar Renteria as the two teams meet again in Woodburn on October 17.
For the defending 4A State Champions, having won the last three State Championships dating back to their last two years in 5A in 2016 and 2017, the Bulldogs had to play a man down for the final 45 minutes of the game after Adrian Jimenez was given two yellow cards during the opening half of Thursday’s game.
But with 10 athletes on the field and the Eagles jumping on the opportunity with an Ivan Munguia goal in the 38th minute to take a 1-0 lead into half, there was a sense that Woodburn could still dominate for the win with ten guys.
They’re like a well-tuned machine as Woodburn Head Coach Leroy Sanchez rallied the troops at halftime and the Bulldogs continued to apply pressure to Stayton’s Ivan Pelayo and his defense.
“We just got to work harder, they’re a really good team, good effective offense. We just got to keep working hard,” said Jayden Esparza.
The Stayton defense continued to deny Woodburn’s opportunities to score, even though the Bulldogs had their moments to possibly tie and do further damage in the game. The Eagles Pablo Aceves had his 63rd minute goal waved off due to goalie obstruction, only to see Esparza connect on a 67th minute goal to make it a 2-0 game.
Stayton Head Coach Chris Shields made a chance in the offensive scheme following their Valley Catholic and Philomath games to fit the athletic ability of his athlete’s on his team as the Eagles saw Esparza and Renteria almost score again after their second goal of the game.
“We’ve moved things around to make things less complicated, we were playing a system that really required people to be smart and make smart choices. I feel like my guys are really good athletes and I would rather just,” starts Shields. “Instead of box that in and be like, ‘no we’re not going to be athletes. We’re going to be footballers, we’re going to make smart football decisions’ and just unleash that.
“Let them go do their own things instead of saying ‘we’re going to play this type of passing formation and we’re going to try to play through this guy’. So I think the changes have been really positive.”
Jimmy Martin, who had a hat trick against Stayton in Woodburn last season, found a few creases late in the game to try to help spark a late game rally with the Bulldogs going down with a fight. But the Junior forward was halted as the shutout remained through the final whistle.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald