Winning the Southern Cascade League title seemed like a pretty bold goal this spring considering the recent history of the Cascade Christian...
KLAMATH FALLS — The two-time defending Skyline Conference champions took a big step toward making it three league titles in a row Tuesday, thanks to their keeper.
Phoenix senior Hector Rocha made three saves in the shootout and Jorge Pinon booted in the game-winning penalty kick as the Pirates beat Henley 1-0 in boys soccer to remain atop the league standings with five games to go.
After 100 minutes of scoreless soccer, including 20 minutes of overtime play, Rocha started the shootout with two straight diving saves, then needed another to give the Pirates (5-2-1, 5-0 Skyline) a chance to seal the win. They made it count when Pinon, a junior, drilled a hard shot into the lower left-hand corner of the goal past Henley keeper James Goheen for a 5-4 shootout advantage.
The win was Phoenix's fifth in a row and gives the Pirates a one-game lead over Henley (7-2-1, 4-1) in the league standings.
"Now, it's ours to win or lose — it's really up to us," Phoenix coach Dennis Flenner said.
Flenner said Rocha was at his best when the Pirates needed him most, rejecting a few hard shots by the Hornets in regulation before providing a wall of defense in the shootout.
"We kind of owe that (win) to (Rocha)," Flenner said.
After the last save, Pinon stepped up to the line and easily fired in the pressure-packed shot that finally clinched it for the Pirates, who outshot Henley 16-7.
"(Pinon) walks up all cool likes it's nobody's business," Flenner said. "I grabbed my heart, the kids celebrated and it was a great time. Those are always fun ways to win."
NORTH VALLEY 1, HIDDEN VALLEY 0 — At Murphy, Trinidad Flores used a cross from Heitor Almeida to head in a goal in the 60th minute for North Valley in Skyline Conference play.
The Knights improved to 5-2-1 overall, 3-2 in league, while the Mustangs dropped to 5-3-1 overall and 2-3 in league.
GRANTS PASS 3, SOUTH MEDFORD 0 — At Grants Pass, Nathan Trujillo scored two goals and assisted on the other to help Grants Pass stay atop the Southern Oregon Hybrid.
Cameron Marzi scored the first goal 13 minutes in, one-touching Trujillo's pass into the back of the net from about 12 yards away to put the Cavers (5-2-3, 4-1 SOH) ahead to stay.
Trujillo made it 2-0 seven minutes into the second half when he took a cross from David Solar and guided the ball into the net. In the 71st, Trujillo capped his big day when he capitalized on an assist by Nate Allemond.
The Panthers fell to 4-3-2, 3-2 in SOH play.
ROSEBURG 12, CRATER 0 — At Roseburg, the Indians pitched a shutout in Southern Oregon Hybrid action.
Midfielder Erix Jensen and defender Agustin Ruvalcaba played strong for Crater (0-8, 0-5 SOH).
Roseburg improved to 2-7 overall, 2-3 in league.
CRESWELL 3, CASCADE CHRISTIAN 1 — Junior Jace Artale knocked in a free kick from about 30 yards out in 66th minute for Cascade Christian in District 2 play at U.S. Cellular.
Jake Booker's direct shot in the first half was just off for the Challengers (1-7, 1-3 Dist. 2), who trailed 1-0 at halftime.
Anthony New, Henrik Dahlhaus and Alex Arceo scored for Creswell (6-3-1, 2-3 Dist. 2).
ST. MARY'S 2, EAGLE POINT 1 — At Eagle Point, Alec Robertson scored from close range late, lifting Class 3A St. Mary's to a nonleague win over Class 5A Eagle Point at Eagle Point High School.
Robertson took advantage of Bryce Parsons' nice pass into the box and connected from about eight yards away to help the Crusaders (5-2-2) win for the fourth time in their last five games. Michael Gambee connected from 15 yards out to give St. Mary's a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute, taking advantage of an assist by Tracy Salgado.
Eagle Point (5-3-1), tied the game in the 60th minute on a low, left-footed goal by Jose Lopez-Ramirez.
St. Mary's hosts Umpqua Valley Christian in a crucial District 2 match Saturday at U.S. Cellular Community Park.