Victor Benites had a sense Saturday afternoon that his Baker boys soccer team had an advantage over Marshfield in a Class 4A play-in game at the Sports Complex.
Then the Bulldogs went out and made their coach’s assessment, based on watching pre-match warmups, seem prescient.
Baker took an early 1-0 lead on sophomore Isael Duran’s goal, and the Bulldogs were dominant in a 5-1 rout over the Pirates.
“We took control early in the game,” Benites said. “We just played our game.”
And in doing so the Bulldogs earned what’s likely to be their biggest challenge of the season.
Baker (6-5-2) will travel to Eugene on Wednesday to play top-ranked Marist Catholic (12-0-1) at 6:30 p.m.
Benites said he was surprised Baker was given a home match in the play-in round. The Bulldogs took advantage, as Jamisun Reguiero scored to give Baker a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Baker added three more goals in the second half — Duran’s second goal, followed by his brother Jorge Duran’s score on a penalty kick, and Alex Davila’s goal.
Meanwhile Baker keeper Silas Carter was thwarting all but one of Marshfield’s shot, a late, largely meaningless goal.
Wednesday’s first-round playoff match at Marist will be just Baker’s second this season played on artificial turf.
“That’s a lot different from playing on grass,” Benites said. “It’s a much faster game.”
He hopes Baker will arrive in Eugene early enough Wednesday for the Bulldogs to practice briefly on the turf.
The only blemish on Marist’s record this year is a 1-1 draw against North Valley in the Spartans’ season-opening match Sept. 3. Since then Marist has won 12 straight matches by a combined score of 69-5.
Although Benites has video of only one Marist match — a 5-0 win over Baker’s Greater Oregon League foe Mac-Hi on Sept. 26 — the Bulldogs and Spartans also have Marshfield as a common opponent.
Marist won both of its matches against the Pirates this year, 2-1 on Sept. 30 and 6-1 on Oct. 17.
“It should be a good game,” Benites said of Wednesday’s playoff contest.