Woodburn — The energy was high, the atmosphere electric, bragging rights on the line, only a rival stands between you and a crack at the state championship. For Woodburn, they might have been playing on their own field, but it felt more like a road game for the Bulldogs. North Marion packed the house as the designated home team, bringing energy and electricity to the stadium. Compile that with the hundreds of other fans supporting Woodburn and you’ve got yourself an unstable combination, but the Bulldogs showed Tuesday night that no matter what anyone says, this team is ready to win a championship on Saturday.
The early stages of this electric state semifinal featured Woodburn in control offensively, as the Bulldogs pressured North Marion in every aspect of their play. Huskies goalkeeper Mallory Patzer was tested in the form of corner kicks and having to make a couple of difficult saves to keep Woodburn off the board. North Marion did get a couple of opportunities, but each time Woodburn was there to stop the shot from getting off and sending it back the other direction. With neither team able to produce a score, Hailey Welch drilled a shot as time expired in the first half but it went high and over the net, and the match remained at a 0-0 stalemate after a half.
Unable to capitalize in the first half, Woodburn pulled something that they did last Saturday against #1 Gladstone, scoring quickly and playing it hard on defense. Scorer Myranda Marquez upheld her reputation for scoring as she got the scoring party started two minutes into the second half, making it 1-0 Woodburn and injecting life into an otherwise stagnant crowd atmosphere. Her good friend Litzy Gonzalez saw what Marquez did and decided to join the party, drilling a netter over the top of Patzer and making it quickly 2-0 Bulldogs only five minutes into the second half of play. Things settled down after that, with North Marion getting more and more aggressive, but not really challenging Woodburn goalkeeper Carla Zamora with any difficult plays. With around 19 minutes remaining, Yahaira Rodriguez bought an insurance policy and netted a goal on the rebound in front of the net, extending the lead to 3-0 over rival North Marion.
The Huskies had a prime opportunity to cut it to 3-1 with around 10 minutes left, as Mya Hammack broke away into a 1v1 scenario with Zamora, but she shanked the wide open shot wide right, keeping North Marion with a goose egg on the scoreboard. With around a minute remaining, the Huskies finally ended Woodburn’s clean sheet streak with Dominique Huapeo’s goal off a rebound, but the Bulldogs had outlasted their biggest rival and won the war, winning 3-1 and sending their team to the state finals where they will face Marist on Saturday at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.
As the sight of celebratory photos, emotional hugs, and reality sank into Woodburn’s players, parents, coaches, and supporters, I searched hard and eventually found Myranda Marquez, Carla Zamora, and Head Coach Andrea Whiteman, who all three discussed with me the journey to this point of the season, their defensive success in the playoffs, and facing Marist in the finals.
Myranda Marquez on the Bulldogs playoff defense, “That is something we’ve been working really hard on, especially during the season and into the playoffs because we knew that is what the key was going to be. We knew that the goal is to score more, but they couldn’t have goals going in. That’s something we’ve worked really hard on in practice, just working on how to move them and get them where they need to be.”
Carla Zamora on the midseason click for Woodburn, “Early on we were just trying to figure out where we belonged and where people needed to be. It was also a time where we really started to know each other even more, we really got that bond. We would start doing stuff if we saw each other at school, we were always saying “Hi” to each other, and its just really the love that we have for each other and the sport.”
Coach Whiteman on facing Marist, “We need to come out with intensity from the very first minute and really just trust each other. When we step out there and anticipate where the ball is going to be and come out with the intensity, it really makes these girls unstoppable. Most of our goals recently have come off of cross finishes, and they are darn good at those cross finishes, and the defense has really started to come around as well.”