By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.—The last time Dayton defeated Western Christian was back on October 27, 2018, back when this year’s Pirates seniors were freshmen in a year where they reached the 3A/2A/1A State Quarterfinals.
Since then, Dayton’s faced heartbreak, losing five-straight decisions to the Pioneers and seeing Western Christian take the Culminating Week Championship from them on April 10.
But thanks to a five-minute stretch to close out the first half Wednesday afternoon down Highway 221, the Pirates snapped their losing streak. Handing the Pioneers, who’ve been co-oping with Amity the last two seasons, their first league loss since falling to Taft on October 23, 2019.
“It felt so good. I haven’t beaten them since my freshman year, so it felt really good and today I got my first goal against them. It’s a good day,” Dayton’s Tyler Spink described the win. “We just finished the half strong and we didn’t relax at the end of the game. We worked hard and those two goals that we got, we worked hard for them and got the win.”
Spink and Western Christian/Amity’s Declan Wark scored in the opening minutes of the game as the game remained gridlock at one for much of the first half.
The Pios Wark had a few opportunities to possibly crack the tie with their defense accounting for Benji Hudson’s speed and ability to score off of it. Dayton’s pressure however eventually cracked through the Western Christian/Amity stronghold.
Freshman Oswaldo Rosas gave the Pirates the lead and Hudson scored soon after, handing Dayton a 3-1 halftime lead. Momentum was in favor of the Pirates as they entered the second half.
“Sometimes we start slow, but once we get a couple of goals going, we get more confident. When we start scoring, we go back to our normal game and keep going and going,” Rosas said. “Once we start finishing, it’s going to be dangerous. We had a lot of shots, it didn’t go our way, we got the win though. We’ll definitely work on those in practice.”
The Pioneers settled in during the second half. Milano Camarena made several clutch stops to keep his team in it, faced with the challenge of the constant harassment by the Dayton offense looking for more after how the first half ended.
“We just had to make sure Benji stays out of the game and push the ball up, that’s about it. Just holding them,” Camarena said. “Our defense played physically and played well so I really appreciated it.”
The Pirates have two games left in the season, one against Taft on Wednesday and Salem Academy/Kennedy next Thursday. For Western Christian/Amity, the road is slightly tougher with the Crusaders, Blanchet and the tough task of Taft and Delphian.
Both the Tigers and Dragons are up on top of the standings with Dayton and the Pioneers looking for positioning going into league playoffs and pushing for State. Creating a challenge for a young Western Christian/Amity team down the stretch that they’re ready for.
“We can hold our own against everyone in our league to no goals from what I saw in that second half. So I just think we just need to pick it up and take more offensive chances and we’ll be good to go,” Camarena said.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald