The South Medford boys soccer team was able to do plenty right in Saturday afternoon’s matchup against Sheldon, but there was just one thing missing for the Panthers.
The ability to finish in front of the goal.
No matter how many chances that were created — including a second-half penalty kick — South Medford simply couldn’t convert, as the Panthers and Irish played out a scoreless draw in Southwest Conference action at Spiegelberg Stadium.
“We played well and I’m happy with the way we played,” South Medford head coach Claudio Villa said. “Unfortunately, we had a few starters get injured, so that kind of limited us in attack. We didn’t really give up any shots, and on the other end we had a lot of scoring opportunities, but it was one of those days when you can’t put the ball in the back of the net.”
So much so Villa didn’t hesitate when talking about what’s on tap the next time the Panthers step onto the practice field.
“Oh yeah,” quipped Villa when asked if shooting practice is in the cards, “we need to work on our finishing because it is not where it needs to be. That’s on the board for Monday.”
South (2-1-1, 1-0-1 SWC) had scored five goals in its past two games combined, wins over Roseburg and Ashland earlier in the week.
But it was a different story against the Irish (0-1-2, 0-1-1), who had scored just two goals in their first two games of the season.
“You do everything but the last part,” said Villa, “which is put the ball in the back of the net.”
The Panthers had a golden opportunity to pull ahead at long last with 10 minutes to go.
South created the chance from the penalty spot through senior Eloy Saucedo, who was able to dribble past the Sheldon goalkeeper in the penalty area before being tackled by an Irish defender right before he could get his shot off. The referee wasted no time calling for the penalty kick.
Saucedo, however, had to come off injured because of the tackle, thus taking out the Panthers’ main penalty kick taker. South’s next option for PKs, senior forward Alex Rodriguez, was also unavailable to take the shot after he came off injured in the first half.
That meant Felix Valenzuela, third on South’s penalty taker list, stepped up to the spot. The result wasn’t what the Panthers were hoping for, as Valenzuela pushed the shot wide.
“PKs sometimes can be a coin flip,” Villa said. “You either score or you don’t, it’s as simple as that. It’s part of the game and we have to remind the boys that you will score a lot penalty kicks and you will miss a lot of penalty kicks because it’s part of the game.”
The Panthers’ defenders found themselves under fire in the last few minutes of the second half, but they were able to clear out multiple Irish corner kicks without any shots being put on goal.
South goalkeeper Silvano Pineda had a strong game despite not being called into action all that often. Instead, he was serving as more of a keeper-sweeper, according to Villa, helping initiate the attacking phase with his passing.
“The last five minutes or so we were very desperate to score and you could tell from the kids we had lost some of that patience and we were getting a little too high and got caught off-guard a few times,” Villa said. “The boys stepped up. We had been working both defensively and offensively on corner kicks.”
South Medford returns to the field Tuesday night when it heads to Grants Pass for a 6 p.m. kickoff.
“We’re hoping to get the injured players back because we have a very limited bench this year,” Villa said.
SOUTH EUGENE 1, NORTH MEDFORD 0: North Medford gave defending Southwest Conference champion South Eugene a run for its money, but the fourth-ranked Axe were able to edge the Tornado thanks to a goal midway through the second half at North Medford High.
Coming off a South Eugene (2-1, 1-0 SWC) throw-in, Calvin Cowles was able to dribble past a pair of North Medford midfielders and send a looping shot from 25 yards out over Black Tornado goalkeeper Fernando Ortiz to break the deadlock.
The Black Tornado (1-3, 0-2) had a pair of quality chances to get on the board in each half, including a header off a first-half corner kick that was cleated off the goal line.
North’s Matt Donovan had a strong game in the midfield, while Landon Mercer — who played the entire 80 minutes — was a stalwart in the center of the Tornado defense.
NORTH MEDFORD 2, SOUTH EUGENE 0: At Eugene, Isabella Driskell and Olivia Boger scored on either side of halftime as North Medford picked up its first SWC win of the season.
Driskell put North (2-1-1, 1-0-1 SWC) ahead 1-0 in the 13th minute as she jumped on the rebound of a Payton Miller shot.
Boger doubled the Black Tornado’s lead midway through the second half with a nice run down the left wing that resulted in a shot from outside of the box that slammed off the crossbar and across the line.
South Eugene (1-2, 0-1) was playing its first game since the tragic news earlier in the week of senior co-captain Lyla Lauderbach passing away in a single-vehicle crash south of Eugene on Tuesday. Both teams knelt and observed a moment of silence prior to kickoff in honor of Lauderbach, 17, an all-conference defender last season.
SOUTH MEDFORD 4, CENTRAL CATHOLIC 0: At Portland, sophomore midfielder Tyler Hampson had a goal and an assist, and South Medford was able to win its second game in less than 24 hours to secure a sweep of its road trip.
South (3-0-1), coming off a 3-0 win over McNary on Friday night, took a 1-0 lead on junior forward Brooke Fairbanks’ unassisted goal in the 10th minute. Sixteen minutes later, junior Samantha Gallardo doubled the Panthers’ lead off an assist from Hampson.
Hampson was on the scoring end of South’s third goal, scoring directly from a corner kick with a shot over the Central Catholic goalkeeper. Freshman midfielder Jayda Dabbs followed up a rebound from a Lexie Clark shot to round out the scoring.
South keeper Eve Lynx had a handful of clutch saves, including one where she was able to dive low to her left and parry the ball away.
Fairbanks, Gallardo and Avery Zahniser all found the back of the net Friday night.
ASHLAND 2, ROSEBURG 0: At Ashland, Ashland’s Brianna Gibbs and Ivy Clason each scored a goal off an assist from Iniana Hammond, leading the Grizzlies past Class 6A Roseburg at Walter A. Phillips Field.
Gibbs gave the Grizzlies (2-0) the lead in the eighth minute, combining with Hammond for a nice give-and-go.
Clason doubled the Grizzlies’ lead 11 minutes into the second half, taking a pass from Hammond and rifling a shot past the Roseburg goalkeeper.
At the back, Joelle Annen had a strong performance anchoring the Grizzlies defense. Ashland keeper Esme Barnes finished with four saves.
Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford’s Felix Valenzuela looks for the ball in the air against Sheldon’s Jaxon Alexander at Spiegelberg Stadium in Medford Saturday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford’s Landon Davis goes up for the ball off a corner-kick against Sheldon at Spiegelberg Stadium in Medford Saturday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford’s Danny Centeno pushes the ball foward against Sheldon at Spiegelberg Stadium in Medford Saturday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford’s Steven Calvillo collides with Sheldon’s Israel Salinas at Spiegelberg Stadium in Medford Saturday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford’s Steven Calvillo goes up for the ball against Sheldon at Spiegelberg Stadium in Medford Saturday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford’s Steven Calvillo looks to pass the ball forward against Sheldon at Spiegelberg Stadium in Medford Saturday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford’s Felix Valenzuela steels a pass away from Sheldon’s Tucker Darland at Spiegelberg Stadium in Medford Saturday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford’s Danny Centeno and Sheldon’s Danny Centeno challenge for the ball at Spiegelberg Stadium in Medford Saturday.