Ontario season over

Ontario teammates Greg Rodriguez, right, and Brandon Rodriguez embrace as they walk to the team huddle after losing to Woodburn 3-0 on Saturday afternoon.

ONTARIO — One of the Ontario boys soccer team’s best seasons in nearly 20 years came to an end on Saturday afternoon as the Tigers were beaten by reigning state champion Woodburn 3-0 in the state quarterfinals.

The loss ends Ontario’s season with a 9-1-4 record.

The Tigers were able to control the pace of the game in the early going, using their speed to keep the ball on their side of the field. But the momentum did a hard 180-degree turn at 20 minutes, when Zeke Parker was called for a foul in the box, resulting in a penalty kick.

“Everything changed there,” Ontario coach Jaime Gonzalez said. “It was an unfortunate PK. We just rolled on it. Then that second goal, that hurt us. But we still had that fight in the second half, which I loved.”

After the successful penalty kick, it was all Woodburn for the rest of the first half, with the Bulldogs then scoring at 27 minutes and 37 minutes. Ontario didn’t get any more real chances at a score until the second half.

One big factor in Saturday’s game was the playoff history of Woodburn. Gonzalez said the reigning state champions had a big advantage when playing against the Tigers, who don’t have the same level of playoff experience.

“It’s huge,” Gonzalez said. “You can just see it in the boys’ eyes when they’re playing. That’s a good Woodburn team. Their coach is good. And you can see the level of play that they expect out of one another.”

Despite the loss, the 2019 season was another big step forward for the Tigers in their fourth year under Gonzalez. The Tigers won the Greater Oregon League Championship for the second year in a row and won their first state tournament match (excluding state play-in games) since 2012.

After last season, where the Tigers won the league title for the first time since 2002, Gonzalez said the Tigers are clearly making strides.

“I wish it was a little bit faster,” Gonzalez said, laughing. “Now we’ve got to learn how to win. It’s been a while since Ontario’s been to the semis. This one hurts a little more, but now we will see what it takes.”

Gonzalez said after seeing the way Woodburn played on Saturday, he knows the next step the Tigers need to get back to the semifinals for the fist time since 2002.

“Everythings gotta be faster,” Gonzalez said. “Our practices have to be faster. Our conditioning has to be faster. Me, as a coach, I have to be faster at making calls and adjustments. We’re moving in the right direction.”

Nik Streng is the sports reporter for the Argus Observer. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2015 with a master's degree in journalism, after graduating from Pacific University in 2013 with a degree in creative writing.

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