By Jeremy McDonald
EUGENE, Ore.– If there was anyway to measure yourself to start the season, it’s against a team like Sheldon High School Girls Soccer team.
Their physicality will prepare them for West Salem, for Summit this league season. And for much of the game, the Saxons rose to match the intensity paced by the Irish in front of them Wednesday evening on the road.
“It’s going to make us stronger and it’s going to make us a better team and unite more facing more challenging teams like Sheldon. We’re going to get more ready for the season,” said Maria Juarez.
Each team had their runs early on, Sheldon more aggressive than South Salem, but for the squad from Salem they were hanging with a program that has been a strong playoff team over the past several seasons.
The Saxons backline supported their Senior goalkeeper in Anna Burger to neutralize the offensive pressure with Burger saving five shots entering the back-end 20 minutes of the opening half. But with two bang-bang plays in the 20th and the 23rd minutes, the once 0-0 ball game was quickly turned into a 2-0 lead in favor of the Irish.
Before Sheldon could have tore open the flood gates, the defensive third of South Salem made the right stops and pushed the ball down field to hold the line at two goals entering the halftime break and for much of the second half.
“Defensively I thought we were pretty solid. I definitely feel like we need to work on set pieces and just clearing out and controlling the chaos,” said Burger. “Our second half as a whole, we played more as a team building from the back-up. Connecting more passes and just feeling like working on set pieces, getting our defense solid and just finishing the ball.”
The Saxons were knocking throughout the game offensively, but just couldn’t finish the opportunities. But it’s just the first game of the season and like working on the little things on defense, finishing those opportunities will be the crucial thing Friday when they host Mountainside at 4pm.
“We’re pretty good at attacking, especially this year,” said Juarez. “I think we need to put in a little bit more effort into the attacks and we need to finish those spots because we had a lot of opportunities. I think it’s that last point of finishing that we need to work on.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald