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New Pilot Michael Hobson -- where will he play at UP?

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: PHIL HAWKINS - Michael Hobson signs his letter-of-intent to play with the University of Portland Pilots. He is flanked by his parents, Tom and Annette, and younger brother Brandon.One of the most highly-decorated soccer players in Woodburn history is set to play at a Division I college next season.

All-state utility player Michael Hobson signed to play for the University of Portland’s men’s soccer program for the 2014-15 season.

The signing marks the end of a hugely successful high career for Hobson. During his four-year tenure with the Bulldogs, Hobson was a four-time all-league honoree, a three-time all-state selection and was voted the 5A Player of the Year during his junior season.

“UP is getting an extremely quick player with a good understanding of the game,” said Woodburn coach Stan Baker.

Hobson was a key piece in Woodburn’s three consecutive state championships from 2010 through 2012. The Bulldogs just missed out on a fourth straight trip to the finals this year after being eliminated by Hood River Valley in overtime of the semifinals.

“This is an achievement that is unprecedented,” said Woodburn Athletic Director Casey Woolley at Hobson’s signing on Feb. 11.

In Hobson’s four years with the team, Woodburn never lost a league game and went on to win four straight Mid-Willamette Conference championships. The Bulldogs put together a combined record of 63-4-4 since 2010 and played in 40 consecutive games without a loss between 2011 and 2013.

“His leadership has helped transform Woodburn High School,” said Woolley, who commended Hobson for his commitment, hard work and dedication that makes him a role model for younger student-athletes at WHS.

During his time with the team, Hobson played a variety of roles for the Bulldogs. Depending on where he was needed, Hobson could be seen streaking toward the goal on quick scoring strikes or falling back on defense to defend against opposing forwards.

His versatility is partly what made him such an attractive recruit for the Pilots’ coaching staff, who were at odds on where to play him next year.

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: PHIL HAWKINS - Michael Hobson beats an opposing player for the ball in a preseason contest in September. Hobson was an instrumental member of the Woodburn High soccer team, which won three straight state titles from 2010 through 2012.“They have two coaches,” Hobson said. “One was recruiting me to play defense and one was recruiting me to play offense.”

The Portland coaches also figured he has the speed to play in the middle of the field, said Hobson, so it remains to be seen where he’ll play next season.

“It all depends on the team and what we’ve got,” said Hobson.

A multi-sport athlete, Hobson also is a sprinter for Woodburn’s track and field team during the spring season. His resume on the track includes two trips to the 5A state meet, including a 2013 trip to the championships where he qualified in the 100, 200, 400 and 4x400.

Hobson’s return to the track this spring remains in doubt, as the senior rehabilitates from an ankle injury that kept him out of the soccer team’s playoff run in November. In an Oct. 29 game at Corvallis, Hobson’s foot became lodged in a hole in the field, and he tore the muscles in his ankle that hold down his Peroneal tendon.

“They had to rebuild all the tissue, sew everything back down and put everything back together,” said Hobson, who was on crutches for close to three months. He got the ankle surgically repaired in December and was in a boot for six weeks.

“Now I have a little brace on it,” said Hobson. “I can walk, so it’s getting better.”

Hobson wouldn’t rule out competing for the Bulldogs’ track and field team, but doesn’t expect to compete at full speed out of concern for reinjury.

“I don’t need to be injured for soccer,” he said. “It just depends on how fast I (recover).”

While Hobson’s speed was an asset on the soccer pitch, so was his versatility and knowledge of the sport, said Baker.

“He can play in multiple positions on the field,” said Baker. “He is an extremely competitive leader who we sorely missed during our playoff run.”

Hobson will join a young Portland team that featured 13 freshmen and sophomores during the 2013 season, including All-American freshman Eddie Sanchez. Hobson chose the University of Portland for its engineering program, its proximity to home and the quality of the school’s soccer program.

“In my opinion, they had the best soccer program in the state,” said Hobson. “I like their campus. I enjoyed going to the games every once in a while. I loved the atmosphere.”

Hobson visited the team during one of their practices, and the coaching staff invited him and his family to tour the campus and the facilities. When they offered Hobson a chance to play for the Pilots, it was an easy decision.

“In my mind, I was like, ‘This was the No. 1 school I wanted to go to, and now you’re saying I can play soccer here.’ I was willing to take it. I wanted to go there.”

The team is led by head coach Bill Irwin, who has a record of 102-89-31 in 12 seasons with the Pilots. Portland last reached the NCAA Tournament in 2009 when the team advanced to the third round before being eliminated in a 1-0 game to eventual champion Virginia.

With Hobson and the Pilots’ 2014 recruiting class joining an already talented young team, Portland will attempt to make a return trip to the tournament this fall.

“I expect that (Hobson) will have a positive impact on the UP program during his time as a Pilot,” said Baker.