By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– You cannot sleep on Corvallis entering the 2019 season. Coming off of back-to-back 5A State Finals appearances, winning in 2018, the Spartans lived up to the standard set from the last two seasons.
And despite their four losses coming from forfeitures, Corvallis had scored 15 goals in their five games. But the Saxon defense held the Spartans to a Eric Ponce 62nd minute goal in their 3-1 victory to close out the preseason schedule at home.
“I saw that we were getting broken a lot through the middle, so I talked to my midfield and said we had a landmark because that was the only time we weren’t going to get as broken,” said South Salem’s Alexis Luna Ramirez. “After that, I mean they kept on getting chances, but they weren’t as before when we were all over the place.”
Luna Ramirez, who had a hat trick in the game, had his 24th minute goal was matched by that Ponce 62nd minute goal to tie the match up at one apiece, but as Corvallis did to South Salem, the Saxons adjusted their defense accordingly to keep the Sparts off the board over the last 18 minutes.
South did have opportunities following their first goal, espically down the stretch with Noah Diaz, David Garcia Campos and Jovani Lopez for instance; but it wasn’t until the 78th minute where the Saxons finally broke through and regained the lead from Ramirez.
“After they scored on us, we went through a phase and it wasn’t our best part of the game,” said Luna Ramirez. “But we were able to communicate, put it together as a team. We had a lot of great chances, we worked on our set pieces last practice and we just tried to enforce that in the game.
“We obviously took a big lesson here…after going down and performing after the goal, I think how we ended that game it’ll give us a lot of momentum going into season and its’ going to be a good one.”
The Junior midfielder scored his and South Salem’s third goal of the game with about four seconds to go as the Saxons wrap up non-league 4-2-1 and with a healthy Sprague squad up next to kick off the Mountain Valley Conference league season October 1 on the road.