By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– History was made at Stayton High School Thursday night. Following their 4-1 win over rival Cascade, the Lady Eagles of Stayton did something that no other Stayton Girls Soccer team has done:
Win a Conference Title.
It’s weird to think that a town that is known for it’s Boys Soccer program that their Girls program hasn’t won at least one, but it has happened as Izaland Samuell said after the game that now they know how the boys felt as the Eagles Boys program has won seven of the last nine Oregon West Conference.
“It’s surreal, I never thought we’ll be here and we’re here,” said Samuell with a smile.
For Cascade, who were in the same spot as Stayton two years ago on-top of the conference standings, they didn’t make it easy for Stayton as in the opening half, the Cougs held off the Eagle offense as Abby Jepsen put Cascade up 1-0 in the 22nd minute.
“I thought we did really good, I mean we had the want . We wanted it and we knew we had nothing to lose,” said Cascade’s Jenica Woebenga. “So we’re going to be like, ‘go hard. We’re going to try to challenge them on their Senior Night. We’re going to try to get one in’ and we did. I’m happy with one goal. The first half, I couldn’t ask for any better first half.
“The second half I thought we just got tired and got on ourselves.”
The defense that was on pair to meet with the pressure that Stayton eventually got worn down as KJ Nyquist struck twice in the final ten minutes of the half to turn the 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead.
“My teammates set me up really well and I finish them. They make the cake and I just eat it,” smiled and laugh Nyquist. “But no, all my teammates deserved the credit. They make me look good.”
The Eagles brought some heat to start the second half, but were stopped until Nyquist’s 60th minute goal that gave Stayton a little more of a cushion to breathe a little before tacking on a fourth goal to get Cascade on their toes late in the game.
Frustrations were there for the young Cascade squad as Stayton took advantage of their miscues into possession time. But it’s something for them to work on moving into next season.
“Get more work in together as a defense before we go into games,” said Lucy Roache on her defense entering 2019.
On the other end, the excitement built as when the clocks hit zero and it turned into celebration with the announcement about the Lady Eagles.
The Senior Class, has seen the playoffs as freshman. They crashing down to Earth as sophomores and rising back up as Juniors entering this season with their lone loss thus far coming the first game of the season as they now celebrate the title.
For this group of girls that have been playing together for years, mixed in with the coach that has pushed them, it’s has finally paid off.
“I think it’s just the fact that we’ve been playing…it’s been the same girls since Middle School year so we’ve just been growing as a team and finally our Senior year everyone was like ‘this is your year’,” said Valeria Navarro. “I remember my family telling me, ‘You guys are going to get it. Your Senior year because you guys are a great team’.
“I think we have projected a lot because our coach pushes us to be the best that we can and it just keeps us mentally focused and I think that has a lot to do with it.”
With emotions running high and unlike years past, they don’t have to play their way into the postseason through the play-in route as the automatic qualifier puts them right into the Field of 16. Now they just wait to see who they are going to play first in the 2018 postseason.
Mixed in with the time-off to heal up and focus back up, the Eagles could take the next step and win a First Round game that has eluded them in years past.
“I know coach is going to knock us down a couple of notches at practice, we’re going to keep conditioning trying hard and we’re going to use our bye week to strengthen our team and work harder,” said Samuell.
“Just keep using the momentum we have now and use it for the future . It’s important that we don’t lose focus of winning a league title, it’s game time,” adds Nyquist.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald