Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
KLAMATH FALLS — Despite settling for a 1-1 tie in a season-opening girls soccer nonconference road match against Class 4A Henley, St. Mary's coach Dave Potter was satisfied with the performance of his team.
"It was an awesome soccer match," said Potter. "They're big, strong and physical. We had to play all 80 minutes. It was a great developmental step for us."
The teams battled to a scoreless tie until sophomore forward Emily Elmore converted from about 15 yards out in the 72nd minute to give the 3A Crusaders a 1-0 lead.
"(Elmore) had to make a good 20-yard run with the ball and split two defenders," explained Potter. "She made their goalkeeper commit to one side and finished on the other."
The Hornets got the equalizer on a penalty kick by Natalie Delonge about four minutes later when a push was called in the box.
St. Mary's used a stout defense led by Sophia Dewing, Sam Weiland and Rose Alvarez to help the Crusaders thwart the Henley offense.
"Their positioning was very solid and reading the play coming at them was skillful," said Potter. "They were winning the ball and moving it up the field to counter."
Senior midfielder Rachel Raniele was also key to the Crusaders' attack.
"She was the ultimate center midfielder," said Potter. "Her timing on passes, the pace of the ball and seeing opportunities allowed us to get some excellent scoring chances."
Taylor Holton, a junior wing, stepped up her level of play for St. Mary's with accurate passing and performing at a quick pace.
St. Mary's outshot Henley, 12-7, and had five corner kicks to none for the Hornets.
"We pushed it and played fast," said Potter. "A 1-1 result early in the season on the road makes me feel pretty darn good."
HENLEY 4, ST. MARY'S 0 — St. Mary's outshot Henley in the first half but couldn't find the back of the net in the nonleague season opener at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
The Crusaders (0-1), who trailed 2-0 at halftime, outshot the Hornets 4-2 in the first half and had more corner kicks. In the second half, Henley recorded four shots on goal and St. Mary's had none.
GRANTS PASS 3, CRATER 1 — At Central Point, Grants Pass bounced back from a first-set disappointment to beat Crater, 18-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-20, in Southern Oregon Hybrid action.
Kelli Gray had 36 digs and Nicole Davis added 29 assists for the Comets (0-1, 0-1 SOH).
Kelsey Strouse recorded 12 kills and Destiny Fahndrich turned in 11 kills for Crater, including eight kills for Fahndrich and seven for Strouse in the first set.
HIDDEN VALLEY 3, ASHLAND 1 — At Ashland, Hidden Valley's tenacious defense and tough serving kept Ashland out of system and frustrated the Grizzlies en route to a 27-25, 25-15, 20-25, 25-14 nonconference victory.
The Mustangs (4-0) were paced on the frontline by senior outside hitter Megan Combe, who had nine kills and 28 digs.
Libero Colleen Bailey and setter McKenzie Cushman each had a Hidden Valley best four aces. Bailey came up with 30 digs, while Cushman dished out 21 assists to go with 14 digs.
Hidden Valley outside hitter Taylor Larson also contributed to the big defensive effort with 24 digs.
For Ashland (0-1), Hope Baldrica had 11 kills and three solo blocks and Hannah Borgerson recorded 21 digs and five kills.
Myla Norvell chipped in 29 digs and five aces and Jordan Tilley added three aces while leading the Grizzlies in assists.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN 3, HENLEY 0 — Karlee Britton recorded 11 kills and Trudy Burns had seven kills, three aces and a key serving stretch in the second set as Class 3A Cascade Christian downed 4A Henley, 25-23, 25-14, 25-19, in nonleague action at Cascade Christian High.
Madigan Smith chipped in five kills and Alyssa Brown had 30 assists for the Challengers (1-1), who broke a 23-all tie and clinched the first set with a sideout followed by a Hornet error.
Burns served up 11 straight points in the second set, pushing Cascade Christian's advantage to 18-9.
NORTH VALLEY 3, ILLINOIS VALLEY 1 — At Merlin, Phoenix transfer Haleigh Wagman went off for 18 kills, 12 digs and 11 aces in North Valley's 25-7, 16-25, 25-18, 25-14 victory over Illinois Valley in nonleague action.
Wagman is a sophomore outside hitter. Her father, Adam Wagman, is the Knights' new coach.
Taryn King recorded 31 assists and Kady Kantola had 13 digs for North Valley (2-2).