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PREP SOCCER: Wilson girls finish 2013 strong, await 2014

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Wilson High's girls soccer team shows off its second-place trophy after the Class 5A championship match Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium.The 2013 playoffs ended just the way Wilson Trojans girls soccer coach Michele Potestio wanted them to end, other than the final score.

"The exciting thing is, the Wilson girls did not back off. In fact, they probably dominated more of the second half, in a lot of ways," Potestio said, after No. 1-ranked Summit defeated the Trojans 4-2 at Hillsboro Stadium on Saturday to claim the Class 5A championship.

Summit scored three goals in a 4 1/2-minute, first-half spree to lead 4-1.

Wilson outscored the undefeated (17-0-2) Storm 1-0 over the final 50-plus minutes.

That showing validated what the No. 22-ranked Trojans had been doing for weeks, as they upset one team after another en route to the state final.

"We played hard (Saturday) and were in the game. We were trying to make something happen," Potestio said. "If a couple of things go our way -- a couple of balls don't hit the post or whatever -- maybe we're looking at a different game."

Summit took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute on senior Shannon Patterson's 25-yard free kick. The shot just cleared the fingertips of Trojans goalkeeper Nikki Hogan.

Wilson senior Kenna Meinhart answered 22 seconds later with the first of her two goals in the match, scoring from 10 yards.

"A beautiful, amazing breakthrough goal," Potestio said. "She just battled through the defenders."

Summit regained the lead 7:39 later, then cracked the Trojans' defense two more times.

Meinhart scored again from 10 yards on a one-on-one move in the 59th minute, giving Wilson some life.

The Storm kept the Trojans at bay, though, by drawing them offside 15 times.

"Summit had a great offsides trap, but we broke through and scored and didn't allow any more goals after that flurry," Potestio said. "We righted our midfield where they were coming through, and we pushed forward a lot."

Still, 15 offsides calls are a lot.

"Offsides are always kind of funny," Potestio said. "There were a few I thought were pretty close or maybe weren't offsides, or the offside individual had come back onside and stayed out of the play.

"But they call things differently (in the final) than they are going to do in regular-season games. We hadn't met a team that was playing that offsides trap as well as Summit did, and sometimes in a big game the referee calls things differently or is more strict, and they're just going to call it no matter what."

The other thing Wilson had to adjust to was the artificial turf.

"We don't play on turf every day, and we don't practice on it," Potestio said. "We bounced a lot this year on different fields. And the turf is a whole different surface. The pace of the ball and the bounce is completely different. It definitely took some adjustment time for us."

By next year, Wilson High is expected to have an artificial turf field for soccer, football and other activities.

"The PIL plans on turfing the remaining four high schools this summer -- Wilson, Franklin, Madison and Jefferson," Potestio said. "I think they plan on breaking ground in May."

Next season will be different in another significant way, too, for the Trojans. All the PIL schools will be playing for at least the next four years in Class 6A, in one reunited Portland Interscholastic League.

"I think we'll be all right," Potestio said, of her team. "I think we'll be able to handle it. We've got some 6A-level athletes, a good corps of them."

The Trojans figure to return the bulk of their girls soccer team, including McKenzie Hopfer, who was lost for nearly all of her junior season when she injured an ACL in the opener against St. Mary's Academy.

"Hopefully we'll have McKenzie back to step in for (graduating senior) Ellen Berkley at center back," Potestio said. "That's McKenzie's natural position, and she's a fabulous player."

Berkley and Meinhart were named co-MVPs of this year's Wilson team.

Meinhart finished the season with 16 goals.

"They've played club together and been together a long time," Potestio said.

Meinhart has been accepted at George Fox and may go there to play soccer and run track and field. She placed third in the high jump and fourth in the long jump at last year's PIL 5A district meet.

Berkley, co-captain this year with Meinhart, wants to play soccer and lacrosse in college and is looking at schools such as Puget Sound, Claremont McKenna and Occidental.

Berkley was voted Wilson's outstanding defensive player of the year, while Meinhart and junior Madison Horn earned co-offensive MVP honors.

Senior Ellie Harper garnered the Most Improved award, while Hopfer was named Most Inspirational.

Rookie awards went to sophomores Carly Meyers and Mara McLaughlin.

Meinhart received Wilson's Golden Boot, sophomore Jamie Kresl earned the Silver Boot, and junior Dana Nathanson and freshman Eva Vlassopoulos picked up Bronze Boot honors.

The 2013 state title was Summit's second in a row and third in the past four seasons.

The Storm are undefeated in their past 36 games. They defeated Bend 2-1 in the semifinals, Putnam 4-0 in the quarterfinals and Parkrose 6-1 in the first round this year.

Wilson finished 8-7-3, after standing 4-6-3 in the regular season and claiming a PIL 5A co-championship with Cleveland.

"I feel like we'll be strong next season," Potestio said, "with now the understanding of what it means and what it takes to do what they did -- and I'm sure the desire to try to do it all over again."