By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.—Sprague’s Eden Sipes knows a thing or two about playing on her toes as the Olympian goalie and her defense went back out for the second half against South Salem Thursday night.
With the monsoon overhead and having played on the defensive backline before converting into goalie this season, the Sprague senior relied on her prior background as the second half started with the Saxons bringing the offensive pressure.
“So much, just staying on my toes. Moving side-to-side and making sure to check my head, using my pointers, it helps me a lot,” Sipes said. “Especially since I have a good boot, it just brings it to a whole other level.”
Avery Anunsen gave South Salem the lead in the eighth minute before the Olys Nicky Williams scored two minutes later to tie the game. Sprague would take the lead in the 25th minute with a 2-1 lead going into halftime.
With a slick ball and it being senior night, the Saxons hoped to knot the game back up coming out of the prolonged intermission following the Senior Night ceremony. They brought their resiliency and strong play, looking to lock-up one of the At-Large bids out of the Mountain Valley Conference.
“This team has really been resilient. To come out and get the win against Bend after a tough tie against McKay, this is a team that keeps showing up and keeps playing. This team is someone not to be counted out,” said South Salem Head Coach Tillerman Kroon. “This team fought for 80 minutes, it’s a tough result.
“It was a balanced game, it’s good to see them fight. It’s tough going up against your rival. It’s tough going up against girls you’ve played club with and went to school with. It was a hard-fought game.”
Sprague’s defense rose to the challenge of their rival, shutting the door whenever they could in the relentless rain coming down in the regular season finale. Williams struck again with 12 to go to help seal the 3-1 victory, the Olympians ninth win of the season.
Matching the win-totals from 2014 and 2016 where they reached the 6A Postseason with Sprague finishing in the top half of the conference standings.
“It was huge for us, we just had to keep each other in check and keep up the intensity,” Sipes said of the second half as they turned their focus to playoffs. “This is amazing. The last time we went to the playoffs, it wasn’t even my freshman year. Way farther past then and this has been amazing what we were able to achieve. We’ve worked really hard and it’s an amazing feeling,”
South Salem finished the regular season 6-6-2 overall and 3-2-2 in league play.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald