By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The Western Christian/Amity defense have been on a rail this season. In seven games following their 3-0 win over Dayton, they’ve collected six shutouts and allowed just one goal in their 2-1 win over Yamhill-Carlton this past Wednesday.
They collapse to the ball. Making shooting lanes and passing lanes difficult with their physicality and speed. Saturday afternoon was no different as they caused headaches for Benji Hudson, Daniel Anguiano and company in the mud pit at Western Christian School adjusting on the fly as they did.
“It was really tough, they collapsed on every ball we had an opportunity on. It was just tough,” Hudson said of the Pioneer defense. “Usually last year we practiced on grass for when we practiced on a grass field, this year it’s a little different now with Covid. It’s tough to adjust too when we have to play on fields like this.”
The Highway 221 rivalry was scoreless for the opening 15 minutes, the Pirates matching Western Christian/Amity’s aggression until the Pios broke the shutout with a Landon Moore goal in the 15th minute and Declan Wark with the first of his two goals in the 24th.
Lending a hand to let the pressure off their defense and adding pressure on the Dayton offense to find a way to beat them. Western Christian goalie Rylan Webster credits his defense in the success that they’ve had entering Monday’s game with Blanchet Catholic
“It’s really just a shoutout to our defenders, they’ve literally worked their butts off and done everything they’ve could in games to get as successful as we have been,” Webster said.
“A lot of sends, a lot of speed this year including myself, Jacky (Choi) and Andrew (O’Dell), they’re all super-fast. It helps with Landon, his ball-dribbling skills and passing. Defense helps a lot also,” adds Wark. “(Saturday) was a lot of fun. I’ve played against a lot of these kids for years; it’s been a lot of fun to see how they’ve improved and how we’ve improved.”
The rain would come tail end of the first-half into the second, making footing difficult for both teams. Wark would get his second goal of the game in the 60th minute as the rain cell moved east towards the Cascade’s from the softball outfield the game was played at.
The Pirates couldn’t get past the Pioneer defense to get on the board and as tough the last two games have been against Delphian and Western Christian, they’ll have Taft and Newport to finish the season off strongly this upcoming week.
“We just got to finish with good intensity and play our hearts out. For the seniors it’s a tough season for them with Covid and all and for everyone else it’s different,” Hudson said.
Beyond Monday’s game with the Cavaliers, the Pios fourth game in seven days, they’ll have a week-off before hosting Cascade Christian from Medford March 29. Knowing that’ll be a good test for them on Senior Night.
“We’ll be working hard. We’ve had a lot of games in a little amount of games, but we all got to work together and stay strong for one game at a time,” Webster said.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald