By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– West Salem’s consistent pressure led right into goals Monday night at West Salem High School against Sprague. Challenging the Olympian defense with four goals in between the eighth and 28th minute of their 8-2win to open up the six-week season
Taking advantage of miscues presented to them by the Sprague defense in front of them during that twenty-minute stretch resulting in those five goals.
“It was really important to take advantage of those. We started off pretty rough too, so it was good to get a goal or two early on so we can get our head into the game and put more in,” the Titans Yahir Bernal said, who finished with three goals Monday night.
The Olys did show flashes of their aggressive style at the start of the game and again at the start of the second half. At times matching the Titans aggressive playing style that made it some interesting soccer to watch.
Edjar Gomez struck once in the opening moments of the second 40-minute frame, scoring in the opening minute. Then Gomez almost struck again in the 42nd on a PK opportunity, cutting the 5-0 deficit to 5-1, catching the Titans in a lull coming out of the halftime break.
Coming close in making it a three-goal game with 38 minutes remaining in the game as West Salem were quickly looking to adjust.
“I was just trying to bring some fire to the team, show them that we don’t give up and we’re going to keep pushing and pushing until the end. And that’s what we did today,” Gomez said. “We kept pushing and pushing and pushing, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t the result we wanted.
“It was the first game of the season; I’m not going to get mad at my guys. It was the first game, but next game we know what we’re going to do and the pace we will be going with.”
The Olympians continued to match West Salem’s intensity over the course of the next few minutes. Brody Whetzel, who made several crucial saves at the end of the opening half to keep the score to 5-0, continued to slow the Bernal-led attack into the second half.
Little hiccups along the way however, would continue to hurt Sprague down the strech of Monday’s season opener that resulted in the Titans calming the Olympians rally to just two second half goals in the entire match. Extending their lead on the other end of the pitch.
Bernal scored again in the 52nd minute, followed by Drew Zohner in the 56th. Zohner scored the opening goal as well in the eighth-minute. Gomez handed the Olys their second goal of the game in the 63rd. A save turned own goal made it 8-2 in the 68th in favor of West Salem who had settled back in after a slow start to the second half of the match.
“It was a learning experience because we can’t finish the game in the first half. We have to come back in the second half the same way we ended the first half,” Bernal said. “We came out slow, gave up a goal and a PK (opportunity) in the first couple of minutes of the half. We just have to focus and start better.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald