By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Blanchet Catholic freshman Christian Orozco was called into duty to fill-in at goalkeeper Wednesday afternoon in the Cavaliers 3/A2A/1A Special District 2 league opener against Delphian/Willamina. Despite their 0-4 record, all losses to the top teams in the State of Oregon in Westside Christian,Riverdale, Oregon Episcopal and Catlin Gable, the Dragons of Sheridan brought in their traditionally strong athleticism and speed to Salem as league play started at Blanchet, who entered the game 4-1 on the year, on this evening.
Delphian/Willamina jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead within seven minutes with goals from Memo Cervantes (fourth minute) and Rikki Suzuki (seventh minute) before Blanchet settled into a groove following Suzuki’s goal.
“It was pretty fun, I was nervous at the beginning and then I got used to it during warm-up,” Orozco said. “We learned a lot from the beginning, they switched formation midgame and we were able to adjust to that and it was a fun game. It helped us a lot too, we learned a lot, especially in the defensive (side).”
Their offside trap was one area of focus they need to work on Orozco points to that the Dragons exploited as eventually Delphian/Willamina broke their 30 minute drought in the 37th when Mujahed Abulohoum scored twice in the closing minutes to push the lead to 4-0 entering halftime.
Delphian was playing more as a team coming off of their first four games of the season. Abuolhoum pointed towards practice and communication then had helped bond the team more as one unit as they started to piece things together going into league play.
“The first four games, we weren’t playing as ourselves. We didn’t pass that much and then after a little bit of practice and a little bit of talk with the team, we started to play as a team and started to trust each other and that was when we started scoring goals,” Abulohoum said. “We got 4-1 against Catlin Gabel, which is not easy. We just got to trust in ourselves, trust in each other and play together as a team.
The senior finished with four goals on the night, his two second half goals quieted down a spark that Blanchet had in the opening twenty minutes of the half when they pulled to within two of the Dragons at 4-2. Orozco scored in the 44th minute off a PK before Keyvi Rocha Alonzo scored three minutes later to cut the deficit in half.
The Cavs had moments in the game to cut further into the deficit, but Delphian’s Cato Matsuoka made sure that the two goals he gave up remained that way with the sophomore and his defense made sure their squad was always moving and keeping Blanchet away from scoring.
“Today we did really well. It was kind of rough in the first minutes of the second half, but we did really well as a team and I think we can improve much better,” Abuolhoum said.
“I was excited. I thought we were back in the game, we could’ve put it away if we played like we did the first 20 minutes of the second half,” adds Orozco of the start of the second half.
Delphian/Willamina host Western Christian/Amity on Friday at 4:15 while Blanchet heads to Kennedy to play the Trojans on Friday at 4:15pm.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald