By Jeremy McDonald
HILLSBORO, Ore.–When word spread that Woodburn was dropping from 5A to 4A, the question became when will we see the Bulldog-Stayton matchup in the finals.
Here’s the challenge to it too. Toss in two times they’ve met in the Oregon West Conference-league play and you got, in theory, a battle. No new things you could through at the other, just let the boys play.
“They’ve been an challenging opponent all season, we’ve had our battles but I feel like we were the better team. The times we’ve played them, they’ve outhustled us. Today, we wanted it more,” said Woodburn’s Riley Menezes.
The Bulldogs struck first off a Rodolfo Campuzano 29th min goal as Woodburn led 1-nil at the break.
It’s hard to defeat a team three times in a row, both teams knew that. 12 State Championship appearances combined with the two teams, the Eagles with five and Woodburn with seven, to go with the seven combined Titles between them entering Saturday night.
Stayton came out in the second half with their opportunities, Woodburn shut it down, loading up the box whenever Nolan Cramer, Omar Renteria and Jayden Esparza came screaming down the field towards them.
For the Eagles, it’s their fourth second-place finish in ten years to go with their 2010 State Title win. Their defense held the Bulldogs offense to that one goal though Woodburn too had their opportunities on the other end.
No one were expecting an high scoring contest. It was as even as you hoped. It was as even as their previous two meetings in Stayton and in Woodburn.
“It’s crazy knowing exactly who we were coming up against again, thinking back to two years. Coming back for a three-game series and knowing they know us,” said Stayton’s Nolan Cramer. “And we know them. It’s going to come down to who can make a play and who makes the first mistake.
“Unfortunately, we made a couple of mistakes and didn’t come out that strong. But it was crazy thinking, ‘we have 50 minutes left in this game and this game is going to be a long one.”
To think about that number…12 State Appearances between them, 14 now, to be a part of either one of those programs like the Seniors on the field is something incredible. Incredible as they leave their lasting influences on their programs and their communities.
“Every year, if we win, we go tour the elementary schools and I think it’s a good influence to sway from cause trouble and stuff like that. Soccer it’s an escape,” said Menzes. “It’s an escape from whatever is happening in your life. Playing…you forget everything.
And as the season closed, Woodburn nabbing their seventh title and fourth-in-a-row, only one of these great programs could get the win. But nonetheless, being one of the final two teams standing is something to be proud of as many more battles stand in front of them for the years to come.
“Even if we didn’t win, I could say I was with a team to get there and get that opportunity to make some plays and work hard,” said Nolan. “It just feels amazing to realize that the boys elected me to lead them and help get us here, it’s just an amazing moment.”