By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– For much of the game outside of a Courage Minten’s first-half goal to give the Stayton Boys Soccer team a 1-nil lead entering the second half, the game itself was kind of a up-and-down game for the Eagles.
In the second half especially, fouls against Stayton allowed Seaside to pressure Jose Navarro and the Eagle back-line constantly but were denied such an opportunity for the Seagulls to tie if not worst against the 2-0 Stayton squad.
Navarro credits how they swarm to the ball and keep the ball to one central location to throw off the players with the ball as he made a few cruical saves himself during a tight part of the game during the second half.
“We’re pretty good, we really compact and our defense is working hard for that to fight every ball,” said Navarro. “One thing we’re working is not trying to control the ball in front of a forward, so our plan is to make sure that the ball doesn’t go over us, just mainly be aware who’s going to make the run behind us. So we’re just going to play tight and compact.”
As they try to find an rhythm with the clock ticking down under 20 minutes offensively, just a simple insurance goal could ice the win and put a dagger in Seasides confidence once in for all. But what was to come, wasn’t a total shock to the Eagles knowing they should’ve done something like that sooner, but made the end of the game memorable.
They found themselves with a corner-kick situation that soon became a Alex Cramer goal with about 10 minutes and some change left that helped dropped kick that figuative door wide open for the Stayton Eagles Soccer team to really showcase their offensive firepower and talent.
Kevin Hernandez recovered on a missed 20-yarder with back-to-back goals to put the Eagles up 3-0 with three minutes remaining in the ball game as Stayton looked scary-good with how well they played together to put the dagger in the heart of the momentum of the Seagulls.
Maybe it’s a clutch-factor or wanting to quite their coach from the sidelines before he wears out his voice before Friday’s practice, but Hernandez knows that if they could play like this for a full 80 minutes instead of the last 10 or 15, then this team could be not just a great one on paper with preseason wrapping up Thursday night.
“We just got to start out like it’s like our last game…like a State Title, last game of our season, we just got to play the whole 80 minutes,” “I’m happy that those last 10 minutes finally kept our heads straight, kept our head up. We didn’t give up, we couldn’t get shots on targets, but we didn’t give up, kept fighting and the goals will come. You just got to be patient.”
To cap the preseason, to cap the 5-0 victory, was Iron Man in Jose ‘Chivo’ Gomez connecting from the sidelines 40-plus yards out wasn’t what the Senior defensiveman, his teammates and perhaps his Head Coach was expecting from a simple designed Cross-play, but he celebrated the Freddie Navarro-esc goal with a few minutes left in the ballgame with his hands up in disbelief of the feat.
“It was pretty good but I was trying to cross it first, but somehow it went in the back in the corner, it felt good,” said Gomez on the goal.
Now whether or not he thought ‘Kobe’ or ‘Rolando’ after he saw it go in leading back into the start of play is up for debate away from the field, but as the Eagles end the preseason 3-0 and knowing that North Marion and Newport is waiting in the wings of the Oregon West Conference play, their focus is now on Philomath on the road Tuesday afternoon at 4:15pm.