By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.—The game as Olympic as one might expect in Sprague High School’s Olympic Stadium between the OSAA Number One Team Stayton High School Eagles and the Cottage Grove Lions Tuesday Night to open the OSAA 4A Boys Soccer Playoffs.
Despite the rust of not playing in a week, all it took were two goals to help Stayton; one by Freddy Navarro and another by Alex Cramer to send the Eagles to the Quarterfinal Round Saturday in a 2-0 victory.
“You could tell that we didn’t play in a week that’s one,” said Stayton Head Coach Chris Shields. “Because the goals didn’t come easy, guys got frustrated and instead of playing through that frustration, (they) just let that frustration ruin them tonight.
“We were literally taking shots at goal but we couldn’t shoot the ball.”
Lions Head Coach Brian Fish admitted that even though his Cottage Grove players matched up against the Eagles, it’s just that Stayton caught them a few times flat-footed.
““We got caught a couple of times but I thought we did pretty well as far as matchining them up,” said Fish. “(Stayton) has some good kids though and got caught flat footed and they scored on us. They did a got a quick break and caught us flat-footed again. It was unfortunate.
Cottage Grove’s Zach Stewart rolled to the left then paused for a second thinking the Eagles were offside as Narvarro send a shot to the right of the goalkeep.
Following Navarro’s goal, the Lions picked up the aggressiveness of their offense to try to tie up the score.
What they faced was a steady dose of denial of Jose Navarro and his defense as they sent it back to the midfield.
But once Stayton was sending it to their forwards, the shots weren’t falling as the backline of Cottage Grove were physical to the point of attack as Zach Stewart had two cruical saves in final minutes of the half.
“Zach, he’s only a sophomore but he’s going to be really good,” said Fish. “He was a first-team as a freshman and second-team as a sophomore in our league. He’s quick and when he’s on, he’s on.”
Freddy Navarro had two shots on goal in the opening 90 seconds of the second half, only to have Stewart save both of them.
Stewart would continue his dominance into the 50th minute and his offense slowly were gaining some confidence.
That was, until Ivan Navarro would set up a 54th minute goal by Alex Cramer to give the Eagles the 2-0 lead.
“I’m just glad to get one,” said the sophomore on the importance of the goal. “It’s been awhile. I’ve been working hard, the rest of the team has been working hard and I’m glad Ivan (Navarro) can give me one and let us know that we are safe and give some extra back-up.”
So instead of playing for the tie, the Lions were playing from a two-goal hole; but couldn’t get it past the backline of the Eagles as time wind down.
“We played solidly tonight, we did what we had to do,” said senior defender Ronaldo Salcedo.
As for the bleached blonde hair that some of the Eagle players were sporting.
“We all decided all as a team to do it. Just why not,” said Salcedo.
Up next for the Stayton Eagle is the ninth-seeded Junction City Tigers on Saturday. Junction City defeated Seaside 2-1 Tuesday Night.
More details of the game to come later on the OSAA website.
“The Saturday thing is probably a blessing,” said Shields. “It kind of gives us another two day’s possibly on turf of practice. It gives us some time to heal some wounds, we got some guys bruised, and they were banged up a little bit.
“That’s the thing about playoffs, it’s a grind. The Saturday to Tuesday is a quicker lay-over, we just need to play better and we need to play more efficiently than we did today.”
SCORE 1 2 – T
LIONS 0 0 – 0
EAGLES 1 1 – 2
GOALS- STAYTON- Narvarro, A. (9′). Cramer, A (54′)
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81!
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