Last summer, coach Oscar Nuñez fielded assembled 10U and 12U girls soccer teams, and both groups combined for a 5-2-2 record with a 21-9 scoring margin as the 10U squad secured first place at the Beaverton Cup.
Restocked with a revamped 10U roster this time around, the Westside Timbers—Copa Gorge posted a 4-0 record, capped by a 3-2 penalty-kick victory on a goal by Josie Gunderson to defeat Oregon City SC and repeat as champions.
“I am very proud of what this group of girls accomplished this summer,” Nuñez said. “With a lot of new faces, they came together and exceeded expectations.”
Joining Nuñez on the coaching staff was Paul Moody, and they led the core group of London Moody, Bella Barragan, Vienna Moody, Clara Wright, Aryanna Nuñez, Genesee Jones, Willow Ziegenhagen, Josie Gunderson, Aubree Nuñez, and Clara Gardipee.
Over their four contests, the Timbers scored eight goals, while the stout defense and goalkeeping worked fits on the opposition and allowed four goals with a pair of shutouts.
In the title game, the Timbers dominated ball possession and outshot Oregon City SC, but couldn’t find the back of the net, so the game ended up in a scoreless deadlock, which sent the battle into penalty kicks.
Both teams misfired on their first attempts and then Barragan came up with a big save on Oregon City’s second shot, and the Timbers scored a goal to go ahead by a 1-0 margin. On their third try, Oregon City tied things up at 1-1, until Jones gave the Timbers a 2-1 lead on a shot that scooted past the keeper in the bottom corner.
Oregon City added another goal on its fourth attempt, as the shot went off the hand of Barragan into the net.
The Timbers’ fourth shot ended up being stopped, so the match went to a decisive fifth round even at 2-apiece.
Following an Oregon City miss, Gunderson had a chance to vault her team to first place.
She took a hard shot to the upper corner and the goalie got both hands on the ball.
However, it went up in the air and took a bounce behind the keeper. then bounced into the goal.
“That was a great shot by Josie,” coach Nuñez said. “She stepped up all tournament and to see her rewarded with the game-winning goal was great to see.”
Before all the championship dramatics, the Timbers engaged in a pool play matchup against Harbor Premier, out of Gig Harbor, Wash., and reeled off a 3-2 comeback win.
While Barragan made some tough stops on several scoring opportunities to keep it 0-0 at the half, Harbor Premier hit the back of the net early in the second stanza to take a 1-0 lead.
At the break, coach Nuñez made a roster switch by moving Ziegenhagen up from defense to forward.
And it paid dividends.
A few minutes after the Harbor goal, Ziegenhagen scored back-to-back goals to put the Timbers up, 2-1.
With five minutes left in regulation, Harbor Premier tied the game at 2-2, but three minutes later, London Moody hit the back of the net for the eventual game-winner.
Staked to a one-goal advantage, Harbor Premier created multiple scoring chances and appeared to be knocking on the door for the equalizer.
Barragan made two stops and helped her team stave off a late rally.
“Josie played every minute of the game and was the key to our success from center midfield,” coach Nuñez said.
Getting those first-game jitters out of the way, the Timbers came out strong in their next two games, beating Saints Academy (2-0) and tying Oregon City SC (0-0).
Against Saints Academy, from Portland, the teams fought to a scoreless halftime and remained that way until the 10-minute mark of the second half.
Once again, Nuñez moved Ziegenhagen to forward to get some speed up front.
Ziegenhagen gave the Timbers a 1-0 lead at the 38-minute mark, and four minutes later, she hammered home her second goal to swell the lead to 2-0, which was the final score.
“Clara Gardipee played great defense, along with Willow, and Bella also had key saves to keep us in the game,” coach Nuñez said. “Josie, again, played almost every minute of the game and was key to recovering the ball in the middle and creating plays on offense.”
The third game pitted the Timbers versus Oregon City SC, in a showdown between two undefeated squads for first place in pool play.
Through the 50 minutes of action, the teams engaged in an intense back-and-forth defensive standstill and had multiple opportunities, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Since Oregon City was the top seed entering the final pool play contest, they were awarded first place and the No. 1 seed.
When Nuñez first approached the Timbers organization about establishing a competitive group, everyone bought into the philosophy of furthering the players skills to develop that talent over the long haul. The parents and players have believed in the process of realizing coach Nuñez’s vision.
“This year, we have a 10U and a 12U team, and by this time next year, we will have three teams (14U, 12U and 10U),” the coach said. “Each season, we have had an increase in numbers, and we are still tacking on new players. This group of girls is very hard-working and very coachable. I am excited to see them learn and grow this incoming season.”
With youth soccer done for the summer, Nuñez announced his upcoming daily double practice schedule for The Dalles High School girls soccer team.
Next week, from Aug. 19-23, the players have their first session from 6-8:15 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, and night sessions begin at 4 p.m. until 6:15 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Afternoon classroom meetings will be announced at a later date.