By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– West Salem enter the 2019 season with a target on their backs following their Quarterfinals appearance last season.
Returning a strong core from that team and adding Paige Alexander to the mix puts the team towards the front of the Mountain Valley Conference pack entering the season ahead.
“I think we’re using it as a strength and we’re using it as ‘hey, these are the people who are going to come to beat us’ and we can show what we are made of,” said Madison McDougal.
Missing two of their Center Mid-Backs for the jamboree Friday, the Titans came out aggressive in their 9am game to start the day. But against South Salem, who finished third in the MVC in 2018 behind West Salem and Summit, came out ready for the Titans strong offensive attack.
Freshman Angela Hage came in for Anna Burger to get her first taste of High School soccer last second, but the frosh stepped up big by stopping two shots by McDougal within the first eight minutes of the 30-minute scrimmage.
“Oh yeah I was definitely nervous, but once we got into it, I knew it was ok. We came out pretty strong and we did pretty good I think,” said Hage. “I didn’t know I was going to play in the game until half-hour ago because I’m the second goalkeeper and the backup. But I thought we did good for the most part.”
Alexander pressured Hage in the 14th minute while the freshman goalie was fielding and holding onto a ball before sending it to center field.
It was about this time entering the 15th minute where the Saxons began to take advantage of the two missing middle backs as Sariah Venegas almost connected on a goal in the 15th minute in a cluster by the box, only to be stopped by Abby Knoll.
For West, to be able to show that versatility by putting girls in different situations and positions may be helpful during the season if they need to put girls in different spots.
“It’s a really good confidence booster and plus we know now who to put there if we come across that situation,” said McDougal. “I thought we held our own, but we need to work on somethings and be able to use different players in different places because we’re losing our two most important people who are Center Backs and having people that don’t usually play Center Backs.
“But I think overall I thought we did well holding our own and it was good that even though it was jamboree even though we didn’t have our Center Backs we held our own.”
South Salem’s backline swarmed Alexander in the 24th minute looking to break the 0-0 tie, but the Saxons shutdown the threat with Marina Foster poking the ball upfield as the scrimmage ended in a 0-0 stalemate to close out jamboree week for both teams.
“We communicated for the most part but it’s the beginning of the season and we got time to work this out,” starts Hage. “Just trying our hardest in practice. We got to work on communication more and bringing the ball down and making solid passes. We just got to work together as a team, keep bonding and keep trying our hardest and we’ll get better.”
South Salem travels to Eugene to play Sheldon on Wednesday to start the season while the Titans host Central Catholic Wednesday night.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald