Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
GRANTS PASS — It had to end eventually.
Noah Heisser scored two goals, including what proved to be the game-winner in the 60th minute, and goalkeeper Kevin Luther made three key saves late as the Grants Pass boys soccer team handed North Medford its first regular season loss in nearly two years, 2-1, Wednesday at a rain-soaked Mel Ingram Field.
Heisser one-touched in a cross from David Solar to give the Cavemen back the lead about a minute after North Medford tied it up on Carter Ehlers' header. Luther made it stand, denying the Black Tornado by making "at least two world-class saves," according to North Medford head coach Michael Belzberg.
"(Luther) played well today, and in a sense that's the game of soccer," Belzberg said. "They only had about two shots on goal and both of them went in."
The Southern Oregon Hybrid loss was North Medford's first regular season setback since the Tornado fell at home to Grants Pass on Oct. 22, 2011. It dropped North to 4-1-2 overall, 1-1 in SOH play. Grants Pass improved to 2-2-3 and 1-1.
The Cavemen led 1-0 at the half after Heisser beat a defender one-on-one then raced in for a six-yard strike.
North, which had won nine straight league tilts, answered in the 58th minute when Danny Zamores delivered a perfect far-post pass to Ehlers, who connected from close range.
The Cavemen capitalized on a North Medford miscue to reclaim the lead, as Solar intercepted a failed clearance and quickly cashed in by finding Heisser.
North had several solid opportunities to send the game into overtime but all were denied by Luther, who blocked a point-blank header then leaped to reject a corner-bound blast as the final minutes ticked away.
"He just came up with some great saves," Grants Pass coach Lowell Anderson said. "I think he had about six saves on the day, and none were bigger than in the last 10 minutes."
HIDDEN VALLEY 2, MAZAMA 0 — At Murphy, Hidden Valley prevailed in both teams' Skyline Conference opener.
Mike'l Andreasen scored the first goal in the sixth minute with an assist from Thomas Fate, and Zach Perrin gave Hidden Valley (4-0-1, 1-0) an insurance goal in the 70th.
Mazama fell to 1-4.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN 8, MILO ADVENTIST ACADEMY 1 — Sophomore forward Jake Booker needed only 15 minutes to tally his first hat trick of the season as Cascade Christian rolled in the District 2 affair at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
Booker scored in the seventh, 13th and 15th minutes to spring the Challengers (1-5, 1-1 D2) to the early lead, and freshman midfielder Asa Hoffman added two goals, including one off a 25-yard free kick.
Also for the Challengers, Kallen Rechberg had two assists and sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Hopkins scored his first-ever goal in the 67th minute.
Milo Adventist fell to 0-2, 0-1 in league play.
ILLINOIS VALLEY 5, GLIDE 2 — At Glide, senior midfielder Boaz Dillon scored four goals, including the go-ahead strike in the 62nd minute as Illinois Valley snapped its six-game losing streak in the District 2 clash.
Dillon used his left foot to steer the ball into the upper right corner of the net and give the Cougars (1-6, 1-1 D2) a 3-2 lead. Four minutes later IV added an insurance goal.
Keith Lewin added two assists and Gino Perata one goal for the Cougars. Glide (0-2-1) was playing its first league game.
NORTH MEDFORD 5, GRANTS PASS 0 — Halley Folsom scored twice in a two-minute span in the second half to help North Medford rout Grants Pass in a Southern Oregon Hybrid game that was called with about 10 minutes to go after a Black Tornado player suffered a serious leg injury at Spiegelberg Stadium.
Folsom scored in the 53rd and 55th minutes to lead North Medford (3-2-1, 2-0 SOH), and teammate Morgan Barry added a goal and an assist.
Also for North, Amanda Hisey tallied an unassisted goal in the 11th minute.
North Medford senior outside back Anna Smith, a two-year varsity starter, had to be taken off the field by ambulance after taking a kick to her left shin in the late going.
Grants Pass fell to 0-3-1, 0-2 in SOH play.
MAZAMA 4, HIDDEN VALLEY 3, OT — At Klamath Falls, Mazama prevailed in the Skyline opener for both teams.
The Vikings improved to 2-2, 1-0 in league play, and dropped the Mustangs to 0-5 and 0-1.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN 4, ILLINOIS VALLEY 1 — At Cave Junction, Cascade Christian senior midfielder Katelyn Fitch scored only three minutes in off an assist by Cheyanne Auchard to lead the Challengers in the District 4 clash.
Fitch capped a quick, game-opening run with a point-blank shot to give Cascade Christian (5-1-1, 2-0 D4) the early advantage.
For Illinois Valley (3-3, 1-1), Amanda Brooks scored in the 22nd minute, about a minute after Cascade Christian's Lacey Reen gave the Challengers a 2-0 lead.
Katelyn Stephens came through in the 64th and Erika Worthington in the 78th to help the visitors pull away.