By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– As they wrapped up their season-finale versus Gervais Monday afternoon, the eleven girls dressed down for the Western Mennonite/Perrydale soccer team had battled through some adversity with depth and the lack of it.
But, after starting the season 1-6-1 as this core group of 11 meshed, turned the corner after their 2-2 tie with Amity on September 18 at home.
“Well, we started off a little rocky playing together because we’re a fairly newer team,” said Perrydale’s Kieley Griffin, one of four Lady Pirates on the team. “I mean there’s only a couple of us older gals and we had a couple new kids and we struggled playing together.
“And then our coach said, ‘You guys need to get into the game if you want to make it to playoffs. You need to play together and pass the ball around more’. Then after he said that, we all came together as a team and started winning.”
The streak started with a 7-1 win over Gervais on September 21, 3-2 victories over Dayton and Salem Academy.
Then their first shutout of the streak, their second overall, in a 2-nil lead over Blanchet Catholic that was followed by two more shutouts entering Senior Day against the Lady Cats of Gervais.
And as one-by-one, the six seniors were recongized, the emotions were there was they had to turn-around to play a game.
“It was really hard-feelings because it’s our last league game as seniors you know and we ended it with a bang,” said Griffin.
After a slow start, the two schools playing as one community, playing with just those 11 girls on the pitch, rallied to life.
Junior May Choi gets the first goal in the 16th minute, that was followed by Sophia Lardy’s 28th minute goal as the Lady Pioneers led 2-nil at halftime.
“I think it just shows who we are as a team and who we are as a school and how we all work together so well and love each other,” said goalie Rina Harris, who made a few nice stops herself with a good defensive back-line and midfield in front of her. “And people from different schools playing with us, we all have a connection.”
Western Mennonite increased it to 4-nil soon enough thanks to back-to-back goals by Griffin for the ‘Brace’-feat. Soon enough, a fifth-goal was added with the Pioneers walking away from the game with a 5-0 win and their fourth-straight shutout and fifth of the season.
This streak, this teamwork and hard-work is no easy task; especially going through the adversity that the girls from Western Mennonite and Perrydale have gone through.
But, being 7-0 in their last seven games stems from all of that hard-work and teamwork as they await the league playoffs next Tuesday.
“It comes with a lot of communication and hard work from everybody because we’re playing with a lot of injuries and no-subs for the past…well all of the games basically,” said Harris. “But yeah, it’s just team-work and working hard and loving each other.”
Late in the game, following the fifth-goal. some Senior Day fun happened as Harris and Griffin swapped positions for the last few minutes of the game.
Harris, who hasn’t played up front in two-years showed off some moves while Griffin, who had little-to-no experience in the box and making her goalie debut this year, made a save or two to keep the shutout in tact.
“I think for her first time and with little-to-no experience, it was really good. She really wanted to go out there so I know enjoyed it and I’m glad she could be out there.” Harris critiquing her teammate in goal. “I haven’t played out of the goal box for two years, so that was fun, it was so awesome, I was smiling the whole entire time.”
“She rocked it. We’re buddies, we always encourage each other out there and every, single time she blocks the ball I yell, ‘Go Rina Harris’ and I block the ball and she goes ‘Go Kieley Griffin,” laughed and smile Griffin said of her goalie playing in the field and their bond together. “My very first time as a senior like, ‘come on coach, let us get up by five and let me play goal’. So the ball came to me twice and I stopped them. It was cool.”
Perhaps we’ll be seeing some Griffin Saves this postseason in the league playoffs?
Regardless, as a few teams still have games left on Thursday, Western Mennonite/Perrydale currently sits on-top the 3A/2A/1A Special District 3 at 8-3-1 with the Lady Cavailers (8-5, 8-3 3A/2A/1A SD3) and will know their fate here in a few days.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald