The 2013 soccer season did not look promising to McMinnville forward Moises Diaz.
The Grizzlies were young – five seniors against eight freshmen and sophomores. Jory Shene had been installed as head coach, Mac’s third in three years, and was installing a new system.
Diaz, himself, did not enter the season 100 percent. His ankles were balky, affecting his ability to run, cut and put power behind shots. He was wary of how impactful he, as a senior and an offensive fixture, could be in Shene’s system.
“Jory told me not to be Superman,” Diaz said. “Have faith in my teammates. I didn’t really trust them at first.”
For 11 to work as one, trust is a precious commodity. It must not only be present on the field, but instinctual – a given to the players, despite being anything but.
McMinnville started the season on shaky footing, going 3-3 in its first six games. The last of those, a 2-1 loss at Putnam, was what Diaz considered “one of the best games of the season” despite the result. It was a high point in terms of togetherness.
“It wasn’t till about halfway through the season till I saw what we were capable of,” Diaz said.
Along the way, Diaz, the News-Register All-Valley Boys Soccer Player of the Year, took his game to another level. He was not Superman, but with 15 goals, 10 assists and some of the best anticipatory play in the Class 6A Pacific Conference, he was a team player.
And the team attained great success, winning a share of the Pacific Conference championship for the fifth time in as many years. McMinnville went on the road to Portland and defeated David Douglas, 2-1, in an OSAA Class 6A first-round playoff upset before falling to eventual state champion Jesuit, 6-0, in the second round.
Individually, Diaz made a point to improve his shot selection during the season and conquer his tendency to over-dribble during possessions. The work paid off in the form of Pacific Conference Co-Player of the Year honors and a first-team Class 6A all-state nod from The Oregonian.
Diaz is presently playing club soccer for Portland FC and considering offers from colleges.
“I had fun (this season),” he said. “I’m definitely going to miss high school soccer.”
The real effort was made when nobody was looking, during the summer, hours upon hours of physical training and skill refinement.
The payoff came when Dayton goalkeeper Morgyn Erb, the News-Register All-Valley Girls Soccer Player of the Year, stepped onto the field for the 2013 season.
“Usually it takes me into midseason to hit my swing,” Erb said. “It got easier and easier (this season). It became a lot of fun instead of stressful.”
Erb, a 6-footer with long arms, fits the physical profile for a top goalkeeper. She attended a girls soccer camp at Oregon State University and received private coaching from a former professional soccer player.
The 2013 season did not come without its bumps and bruises – the Pirates allowed three or more goals twice during a 12-7 season (10-4 Class 3A/2A/1A Special District 3). Still, Erb and the Dayton defense allowed 16 goals to be scored over the 19 games, one of the best marks in the state at any classification.
“Personally, I didn’t want to look at it as a bad thing if I was scored on,” Erb said. “If it was a bad game, I’d think of it as shot practice. When it comes to brass tacks, I did well.”
The Pirates – in their fourth year as a soccer program – lost three of their first four games before catching fire in league play. Dayton went 9-2 over its next 11 games and went 1-1 in the SD3 playoffs, securing the second OSAA Class 3A/2A/1A playoff berth in school history.
“We were kind of all over the place all year,” Erb said. “We just turned it on once the playoffs came around.”
Dayton notched the first playoff win in its history on Nov. 5, a 5-0 triumph against Portland Christian. However, the Pirates’ run ended in the quarterfinals on Nov. 9, with a 1-0 loss to Valley Catholic.
Erb had seven saves in the contest.
“That last game, I was quite proud of,” she said. “I walked out with no regrets.”
Erb’s soccer career effectively ended with that Valley Catholic game. She aspires to attend culinary school, with the eventual goal of opening her own restaurant.
The sense of accomplishment surrounding the season will stick with her.
“I don’t like leaving, knowing there’s somebody not there to fill the spot,” Erb said. “I have a lot of loyalty to these girls.”