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State Soccer Championships Sunday, November 18, 2007

The McLoughlin Pioneers lift Christian Corona after he scored against Gladstone in the 33rd minute of the 4A state championship game Nov. 17 in Wilsonville. With the 1-0 win, McLoughlin claimed its third consecutive state title.

It was with more than a little trepidation that I drove down to Wilsonville (about 20 miles south of Portland) yesterday morning to photograph the boys' 4A and 3A/2A/1A state soccer championships. I
had never been to the stadium, about 20 miles south of Portland, and I don't have much experience shooting soccer, but that didn't worry me. It was the rain.

The weather map shown on the Friday night news showed a distinct white swath funneling moisture from around Hawaii directly at Portland. All of the local meteorologists were calling for heavy rain, all day long. The predicted high of around 50 degrees (10C) is hardly cold, but if you've been standing in the wind and rain for five or six hours it could hardly be described as balmy.

So I wrapped myself up in various layers of high-tech synthetic fibers, grabbed my camera's raincoat, and headed down the highway through the pouring rain.

As I drove, I tried to psych myself up for the afternoon, get into the game, so to speak.
Since these were championships for the smaller high schools in the state (the big school finals were in Hillsboro), I wasn't sure what kind of facilities they would have for the media. I had two games to shoot: one at 1 p.m. (the boys' 3A/2A/1A game, Riverside vs. Oregon Episcopal School) and another at 6 (the 4A game, McLoughlin vs. Gladstone). In between was the girls' 4A/3A/2A/1A final, which I wasn't covering, so I thought I could find a nearby coffee shop in which to huddle and download my first game's take.

Riverside's Hugo Morales (center) celebrates with Juan Carlos Ruiz (left) and Juan Antonio Llamas after scoring in the ninth minute of the 3A/2A/1A boys soccer final Nov. 17 in Wilsonville.

And I thought about the possibility of some great mud shots, especially during the first game when it was still daylight. But then I wondered if the field could hold up to three consecutive games in the rain, and if they would even play.

As it turned out, the stadium was great. They had an artificial turf surface, so the mud shots weren't going to happen, but at least I (and my gear) would stay clean. The media room, beside the announcer's booth above the grandstand, was full of half-dead flies, but otherwise dry, convenient, and fully equipped with power and wireless internet connections. And, better yet, I could shoot from up there, affording me first a different angle on the field, and second, a dry place to be.

And that is just how I shot the first 15 minutes of the first game—from up above the grandstand.

Then, miracle of miracles, the rain stopped. I went down to field level to get some shots from down there, before it got wet again. As it turned out, though, the rain didn't come back all afternoon. In fact, the sun broke through for a few minutes.

Riverside assistant coach Francisco Velazquez turns from the game action and hangs his head in the dying seconds of the Pirates' 2-1 loss to Oregon Episcopal School. The win for OES gave the Aardvarks their third consecutive state title.

Game stories and see additional photos for Riverside and McLoughlin on the East Oregonian's website.


Pamela said...

Hi Matthew-

I'm one of the girls chatting in Paradise Bakery at Bridgeport a few days ago. It was nice to meet you- let us know if you have any images that aren't used as that would be very cool!

With good thoughts,