|One win from a perfect season|
|Written by Jef Hatch, Pilot staff writer|
|October 18, 2013 10:15 pm|
Not only does the Bruins’ record mean they are the undisputed Far West League champions, they are also the top ranked team in the state at the OSAA 4A level.
The ranking, based on strength of schedule and how well the team’s opponents compete through the year, could change as teams report out-of-state competitions or opponents of opponents win more games, but the Bruins are more than 15 points ahead of their nearest competitor, Sisters High School.
“It feels pretty great,” senior co-captain David Joyce said. “I have a good feeling that we’re going to finish undefeated. Marshfield wasn’t a big challenge last time. I’m just hoping we put it away.”
With the shutout of the Pirates, the Bruins have allowed opponents to score just 6 goals all season. While a part of that is due to the Bruins ability to keep the ball on the oppositions half of the pitch, it is mostly due to the Bruins’ goalie and defensive staff, who swallow up opponents’ offensive strikes and then force the ball upfield to the scoring squad.
According to senior co-captain Derek Hodge, part of the reason for the Bruins’ success is team chemistry.
“We always know where everyone is going to be,” he said. “And even just as a group of guys we’re really close as a team.”
The Bruins’ offense has placed the ball in the back of its opponent’s net 83 times and has so many scoring options that it is hard to keep track of all of the hat tricks and scoring that takes place each game.
In Thursday’s game, the Bruins spread five goals among four players with Joyce scoring twice and David Daniels, Fernando Villa and Nels Johnson each scoring once.
Villa’s score came on a header in the 13th minute. Daniels’ came after two shots bounced off the goalie’s chest in the 15th minute and he pounced on the rebound to put it around the keeper’s outstretched hands to hit the back of the net.
In the 54th minute, Nels Johnson was able to get a piece of a Bruins’ corner kick and direct it into the net for his goal.
Joyce took one of his goals off a perfectly placed cross from Villa in the 49th minute and the other in the 56th minute when he dribbled through traffic from mid-field to the penalty box and placed the ball past the goalie.
Daniels, Joyce, Wyatt Aldrich and others have three or more goals in multiple games and, because so many of the Bruins are scoring threats, there is no single player for defensive units to key on.
According to Head Coach Gabe Anaya, many teams will just bring all 10 players into the defensive half of the field and try to clog the scoring lanes so much the Bruins are only able to score one or two goals — the Bruins have scored less than three goals just twice in the 2013 season.
The Bruins will travel to Marshfield on Tuesday for their last regular-season game, scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
The 2013 OSAA 4A playoff brackets are not yet set, but the Bruins are guaranteed a spot in the round-of-16 playoff bracket and will not need to compete in a play-in game against a Skyline League team.
According to Hodge, the Bruins are ready for any challengers.
“We’re the number one team in the state and we practice against each other,” he said. “We just have to push each other in practice and that will prepare us for playoffs.”