Lions boys soccer opens season 2-2

Junior Armando Legorreta scored a goal for the Lions boys soccer team late in the second half of the Lions 5-1 loss to Stayton. (Photo by Kyle McGowen)

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. - The Cottage Grove Lions boys soccer team kicked off the Jaime Urenda coaching era earlier this month. Urenda was celebrating his 36th birthday on Thursday, Sept. 14, when the Lions took on the Stayton team, which was one of the best in the 4A a year ago. It would be a big early test for Cottage Grove, who had just come off a 3-0 win over Philomath a few days earlier.

“Against Philomath in the first half, we struggled to get on our stride. Towards the second half we started to finally find our rhythm, we finally got everything put together it felt like. The last ten minutes or so of the game we got our last two goals.”

The Lions struggled early against Stayton, who used their defense to create issues for Cottage Grove.

“The other day at Philomath we had good combination passing so we were able to score, today with the high press that Stayton put us in we panicked a little bit. We are going to work on our ball control and our passing overall as a team collectively,” Urenda said.

Stayton built a 3-0 lead over the Lions before halftime and ultimately was able to take a 5-0 before Junior Armando Legorreta scored a goal, putting Cottage Grove on the board. Ultimately though the Lions fell to Stayton 5-1. Still, coach Urenda saw where the team could grow after the loss.

“It shows us where we are at in the beginning of the season,” Urenda said. “We are looking tired this week because we have three games this week. We had some pains and aches, but Stayton is a very good team. They work the ball well together from the back, they press you high. We learned a lot today. Individually and collectively as a team.”

Cottage Grove quickly got back in action on Saturday, their third game in five days, getting back on track by beating Cascade on the road 4-1. The Lions improved to 2-2 overall with the win. Cottage Grove then played at home against Klamath Union on Wednesday, Sept. 13, following the Cottage Grove Sentinel's time of print.

Jaime Urenda was hired as the Lions coach in April, taking over from former longtime coach Vern Stewart, who had been the Lions boys soccer coach since 1996. Urenda is a 2006 graduate of CGHS and is the all-time leading goal scorer in the school's history.

“I was very excited; it was like a dream come true. Having played here for four years it’s nice to be able to give back to this community that gave me so much as a player. I’m super excited to be back coaching, growing these guys, and teaching them the best I can on and off the field as well,” Urenda said.

The team saw participation from 15-20 players during spring workouts and about 30 players participated in summer team programs.

“We’ve been working out since April and May; that I’ve been working with the guys as the new coach. They’ve gotten to know me well. Over the summer we played two or three days a week as well as worked on conditioning.”

The Lions now turn their attention to play at Creswell on Monday and then travel to Marshfield on Wednesday.