By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– There’s a change in the air for Stayton Girls Soccer this year that’s oddly different than last year and it was in full force this first week of Oregon West Conference-play:
Tuesday against Philomath, down 2-nil to the Lady Warriors in the first half, the Lady Eagles tied it up by two at the halftime whistle in the 5-3 loss to Philomath; and that aggression and physical play continued into Thursday’s game against rival Cascade.
So much so that even the Lady Cougars were caught off-guard by it.
“I mean we just honestly had to keep pushing because they came back, like from last year, they’re a completely different team this year,” said Jenica Wiebanga on the pressure by the Stayton Eagles. “They’re like…they matched us in the first half and it was like we had to push. We could not let-up, we had to play the game that we knew we had to play.”
During the first half, while Emma Woods was trying to find her rhythm against the Stayton defense, Cascade’s Alexia Privratsky made up the difference on the other side of the field to challenge the junior goalkeeper in Slivia Gomez.
The junior made sure that was all she was doing by making crucial saves all over the place in the first half, and once Woods found her groove too, Gomez prevented the senior from breaking open a 0-all tie during the second half.
“I think we did a pretty good job, I think I did a pretty good job because most of our goals came from defensive things we need to work on as a team,” starts Gomez on the game Thursday and the week in general. “I think we’re slowly learning, we’re getting better every practice we go in, ready to learn and stuff and fix our mistakes from our losses.”
Then, tragedy happened when a own-goal went in against Stayton off a Wiebanga corner kick to make it 1-0 Cougars about midway through the second half.
It hurt yes for the Eagles seeing Cascade celebrating a goal, but they kept pushing and challenging that Cougars back-line, a defensive back-line that averages about 5’7 to 5’10 and the front line of the Eagles was about 5’2 to 5’5 that kept challenging Faith Craig, Brooklynn Petterson, Kelsey Molan and Riley Bangert ever since the game started.
“I definitely thought we had the speed, I mean the passes could have been better but we were definitely trying our best out there,” said Mackenzie Plata, who was going up against the tallest girl on the Cascade defense in Maliah Russell, on the effort out there Thursday afternoon. “I think that giving our all, we just have those little things that we have to work on and we’ll get there, we just got to keep working at it.”
KJ Nyquist had her chances, so did Plata, Kylie Fisk, Valeria Navarro and Izeland Sammuell, but the physicality of the Cougar defense made sure that ‘0’ hung as strong as Stayton’s drive to change it.
The lone goal of the game came way off a Woods drive to Wiebanga who iced the 2-0 win with a goal that gave during the game a bit of a breathing room for Cascade against the driving force that is the 2017 Eagle team.
“I think that’s very important, yeah it sucked but it’s better to keep our heads up and keep going,” said Plata on the situation.
For Gomez, she knew that with the offensive ability they got, it’s just a matter of time before it goes, but in the meantime, the defense needs to be the vocal point as they turn around for Yamhill-Carlton and North Marion this upcoming week.
“Definitely at practice, we need to work on listening to the goalie and getting more confidently trying to get our defense to get more pressure on them,” said Gomez on how they can improve as a defensive unit entering next week.
Wiebanga and the Lady Cougars, the chance to gain some momentum to start league after only having two-games in the preseason compare to three that a Stayton-had for example, is beneficial with them going to Newport (4-2, 0-2) and hosting Philomath (4-2, 2-0) this next upcoming week.
“We just got to keep the momentum, keep pushing,” said Wiebanga. “Honestly we need to keep feeding off the games and keep building up because each game, we’re learning more about each other and learning more about the game and that’s what making us great.
“Like we’re getting our momentum back and it’s nice.”
A few pictures by Jeremy McDonald