Before they came to West Salem High School, Anna Norrenberns and Paula Labate were familiar with each other off the field, but their only knowledge of each other on the soccer field was as opponents.
Now entering their fourth year as teammates for the Titans, the two forwards have been prolific as a dynamic duo.
Seeing one score a goal off an assist from the other has been commonplace.
“I think they’re just great individual players and they play like a team,” West Salem coach Jaime Rodriguez said. “It’s being unselfish, and when you draw the defense, other people get open.
“Especially Paula, she dribbles very well, people will get drawn to her and somebody is left open. That’s a thing that happens to both of them.”
In their time at West Salem their on-field games have been so intertwined that it’s hard to separate them.
“I would say probably at least 75 percent of my goals Paula has assisted me on,” Norrenberns said.
“Definitely more than half,” Labate said of how many goals on how many goals Norrenberns has assisted her.
The thing is that even though they were separate for most of their lives, similar paths led them to success on the field.
They both had fathers – Brent Norrenberns and Andres Labate – who were soccer players in high school.
They both started playing soccer around the age of 2, following in the footsteps of older siblings.
But from the time Norrenberns’ family moved to Oregon from Illinois, Labate and Norrenberns were on opposite teams: Labate on the Keizer Junior Hotshots at first and Norrenberns on the CFC Fusion.
They played against each other often as youths, but only knew each other from Straub Middle School before coming to West Salem.
“I know I used to go against Paula all the time,” Norrenberns said. “Once she was on my team, I was like thank goodness I don’t have to play against her. We can work together now.”
They’ve also enjoyed plenty of individual success in high school.
Norrenberns is a three-time first-team all-league player and was second-team all-state as a junior; Labate was twice a second-team all-league player and was a first-team all-league and second-team all-league selection as a junior.
Their games have matured in concert and part of that development has been in part to playing together.
“Plus it was different from being kids to now,” Labate said. “We’re more experienced players so we can actually do stuff.”
Though they both score and assist on a lot of goals – Labate scored 22 goals and had 10 assists as a junior and Norrenberns scored 17 goals and had nine assists as a junior – they do it in different ways.
“I think an advantage Anna has is that she’s very aggressive and I think a lot of times defenders don’t expect that from a fast forward,” Labate said.
“She comes out really aggressive, and she makes good runs forward to get behind the defense. She goes slowly around the defenders and then all of a sudden it’s like breakaway.”
“What doesn’t she do well on the soccer field?” Norrenberns said. “She scores goals, she dribbles around people. She’s too good. She’s too good. She’s good competition.”
Though they have different strengths on the field, they are similar off the field.
Both are the smart students in their classes, but also quiet.
“They do their job and they do it well, and they’re not always looking to get a pat on the back,” Rodriguez said. “I think that’s enough for them.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6701 or Twitter.com/bpoehler
Greater Valley Conference
Coach: Ben Lopez, first year
2014 record: 4-1-3 GVC, 4-5-5 overall, lost in first round of state playoffs
Jorge Garibay, Sr., MF: A two-time first-team all-league player.
Outlook: The Royal Scots have been a league championship contender the past few years, but have a new head coach this season.
Coach: Miguel Camarena, 14th year
2014 record: 6-1-1 GVC, 8-2-4 overall, lost in first round of 6A state playoffs
Gustavo Villalvazo, Sr., MF: A player who came on strong last season and became a first-team all-league player.
Paula Reyes, Sr., MF: A first-team all-Greater Valley Conference player as a junior.
Outlook: The Celtics were the surprise league champions last year and return the skilled players to accomplish it again.
Coach: Rich Swartzentruber, 23rd year
2014 record: 1-7 GVC, 2-11-1 overall
Brian Sierra, Sr., GK: A four-year starter at goalkeeper and honorable mention all-league player as a junior.
Sergio Villazana, Jr., MF: A second-team all-league player as a sophomore.
Outlook: The Vikings were young last season, but that experience should help propel the team up the league this season.
Coach: Eric Johansen, 35th year
2014 record: 4-3-1 GVC, 8-5-3 overall, lost in second round of 6A state playoffs
Sebastian Ruelas, Jr., F: A returning starter who was first-team all-league last season.
Miguel Ponce Catarino, Sr., MF: A second-team all-league player as a junior.
Outlook: The Saxons returns a good core of returners and have the depth to contend for the league’s top spot.
Coach: Shawn Barnes, first year
2014 record: 2-5-1 GVC, 5-6-3 overall
Mitch Eckdahl, Sr., GK: A returning starter in goal.
Caleb Lounsbury, So., MF: A starter as a freshman last season, he showed great promise and also was a district placing cross country runner last fall.
Outlook: The Olympians have been improving year to year, but this has the potential to be their biggest jump yet.
Coach: Eddy Soboll, first year
2014 record: 5-2-1 GVC, 12-5-1 overall, lost in 6A state quarterfinals
Stuart Aeschliman, Jr., F/MF: One of the most dynamic players around, he was a first-team all-conference player the past two years.
Marco Ochoa, Sr., GK: A first-team all-conference player as a junior.
Outlook: Soboll was the coach at Sprague last season and takes over an established program at West Salem.
The rest of the GVC: McMinnville should be in the race for the top spot in the conference and Forest Grove has potential.
Mid-Willamette Conference: Woodburn has ruled the conference the past few years, but graduated a talented senior class from last year’s state runner-up team. Corvallis has potential, but South Albany also will contend for the league’s top spot.
Oregon West Conference: The state’s top two teams from last year return loaded rosters and should battle it out for the state title again. Defending 4A state champion North Marion returns state player of the year Dennis Zapata along with first-team all-state player Aaron Caballero. Stayton, last year’s state runner-up, returns first-team all-state players Ivan Navarro and Freddy Navarro along with starters including Christian Gomez, Jose Gomez and Chris Perigrina.
3A/2A/1A Special District 2: Blanchet Catholic was last year’s league champion and reached the state semifinals with a talented senior class. The Cavaliers will be young, but should contend with Delphian for the league’s top spot.
Greater Valley Conference
Coach: Arturo Alfaro, first year
2014 record: 0-8 GVC, 0-14 overall
Mercedes Garcia, Sr., MF/F: An all-league player as a junior.
Outlook: The Royal Scots struggled to score goals last year, but return a good core of players.
Coach: AJ Nash, second year
2014 record: 2-6 GVC, 4-10 overall
Kelli Miller, Sr., MF: One of the team’s leading returning scorers who was first-team all-league as a junior.
Michaela Sanchez, Sr., D: A top defensive player who was second-team all-league last year.
Outlook: The Celtics have a lot of promise with an experienced roster and the players to contend for a state playoff spot.
Coach: Erik Boyd, third year
2014 record: 1-7 GVC, 2-12 overall
Myrian Hernandez, Sr., MF/D: An all-league player last year.
Outlook: The Vikings will be young again, but have the potential to move up in the league.
Coach: Alvaro Anaya, third year
2014 record: 7-1 GVC, 13-3-1 overall, lost in 6A state quarterfinals
Karli Scoggins, Sr., MF: A returning starter in the middle for the Saxons.
Haley Hmura, Jr., D: One of the top defenders in the conference and a returning starter.
Outlook: The Saxons don’t have the depth of talent they had last season, but have a talented young group that will make an impact.
Coach: Kevin Plechl, eighth year
2014 record: 5-2-1 GVC, 9-5-1 overall, lost in first round of 6A state playoffs
Emily Schmelling, Sr., GK: A four-year varsity player for the Olympians and a returning first-team all-league player in goal.
Sara Teubner, jr., MF: A dynamic player who was second-team Class 4A all-state as a sophomore at Cascade.
Outlook: The Olympians are going to be young this year, but they will compete for an automatic state playoff spot.
Coach: Jaime Rodriguez, fourth year
2014 record: 7-1 GVC, 16-2 overall, lost in 6A state semifinals
Sarah Litwin, Sr., MF: A second-team all-league player as a junior and a strong player in the center.
Liz Mendez, Sr., MF: A smart player who gives the team a lot of options in the middle.
Outlook: The Titans return a large, experienced and talented senior class that gives the team the potential to go farther in the postseason.
The rest of the GVC: Forest Grove has a strong senior class and should contend for a state playoff spot and McMinnville has the potential to be a playoff team, too.
Mid-Willamette Conference: Crescent Valley and Corvallis have been the top teams in the league for years, but Silverton has the athletes to challenge for the league title. The Foxes return first-team all-league players in Baylie Cameron and Hayley Satyna as well as starters in Lizzy Roth, Heidi Moore, Hannah Doyle, Caitlyn Keating, Hannah Munson, Maddy Valof, Desiree Sinn and Maggie Roth.
Oregon West Conference: Philomath is the defending league champion, but Cascade will be a strong contender after reaching the state championship game last season. The Cougars return starters in Danyel Walling, Elisa Kanoff, Halle Wright, Emma Woods and Brooklynn Petterson.
3A/2A/1A Special District 3: Blanchet Catholic has the young, but experienced players to win its second straight league title with players including Emily Collier, Annie Ruef, Katarina Veliz and Christina Nakamura.