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MailTribune.com
  • SOCCER

    Reunited, Los Pumas rolls, 9-0

    Local U19 squad rolls past Chillers before falling to Man U in Rogue Memorial Challenge
  • When coach Gregorio Alegria's soccer teams get together, it's like a family reunion.
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    • PUMAS 9, CHILLERS 0
      RECAP: Nine players score for the Medford United Futbol Club Los Pumas as they improve to 3-0 at the Rogue Memorial Challenge. In a pivotal second game, Rogue Valley Timbers Manchester United edges...
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      PUMAS 9, CHILLERS 0
      RECAP: Nine players score for the Medford United Futbol Club Los Pumas as they improve to 3-0 at the Rogue Memorial Challenge. In a pivotal second game, Rogue Valley Timbers Manchester United edges Los Pumas, 1-0.

      • U19 BOYS CHAMPIONSHIP: Today, Rogue Valley Timbers Manchester United vs. Medford United Futbol Club Mutiny of Ashland, 9:30 a.m., U.S. Cellular Community Park (Field 10).
      • U19 GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIP: Today, Rogue Valley Timbers 95G Red vs. BSC Portland 96G Black, 11 a.m., U.S. Cellular Community Park (Field 10).
  • When coach Gregorio Alegria's soccer teams get together, it's like a family reunion.
    His U19 Medford United Futbol Club Los Pumas players are young men now, but Alegria remembers when some were just 5.
    Of course, his memories of son Gregory Jr. — who is also on the squad — stretch back a bit further.
    The small beginners grew into big veterans who have experienced highs and lows together.
    On Sunday evening, Rogue Valley Timbers Manchester United dealt the collection of local college-level athletes a defeat neither team will soon forget.
    Los Pumas cruised to a 9-0 victory over Southern Oregon Fuego FC Chillers of Ashland before falling, 1-0, in heart-stopping fashion to Man U in their second match of the day at the Rogue Memorial Challenge.
    Man U will take on United Mutiny of Ashland in the championship match at 9:30 a.m. today at U.S. Cellular Community Park. Both squads finished with three wins and a tie, with Mutiny earning a 2-0 win over the Mount Shasta Bears and a 2-0 victory against the Chillers on Sunday.
    The Pumas will play for third place after the devastating loss.
    Man U's Garrett Byrd netted the game-winning penalty kick with about two minutes left against the Pumas. Prior to that, Alegria's club was served a red card that forced them to play short one player with 20 minutes remaining. Meanwhile, Man U was issued a pair of late ejections, including United head coach Scott Byrd.
    "I'm speechless," Byrd said of the intensity of the contest.
    Noah Heisser, who moved up from the centerback position late, drew the penalty that set up Byrd's decider.
    In Man U's earlier 4-0 victory over Epuerto of North Bend, Byrd and Benito Torres-Mata each had two goals.
    Strong defensive play by Heisser, Joe Siordia, David Solar, Jeff Turner and Cole Owings helped Man U keep opponents scoreless over the weekend.
    "Those guys just came up huge," coach Byrd said. "We had to withstand a lot of pressure."
    In U19 girls action, defending champion RVT 95G Red went 2-0 on Sunday to punch its ticket for today's final against BSC Portland 96G Black. The Portland squad edged 95G Red, 1-0, on Saturday.
    During the second day of action, 95G Red beat Tsunami of Grants Pass, 7-0, before getting past Venom of Medford, 2-1. Facien Graham scored the first goal and Bailey O'Connor made it 2-0 for the RVT squad about midway through the first half. Venom's Hannah Kapple netted a goal in the second half.
    Like a family union, the tournament presented a chance for the players to catch up on each other's lives.
    Starting Pumas goalkeeper Mitch North had news to share. The former South Medford High standout who left during his senior year to play for the Portland Timbers' U18 Academy team will transfer from Oregon State University to Sonoma State for personal reasons. The 19-year-old, who is to be a redshirt sophomore next season, said his plan is to finish college and then play overseas, preferably in Germany.
    He was valuable against the Chillers, coming out of goal to boot in a penalty kick in the first half while combining with fellow goalkeeper Omar Mendez Vargas for the shutout.
    "I have never done that before," said North, who played forward in the second half. "We were up 3-0 and as soon as he (referee) put the ball down I looked over at coach and said, 'Come on, baby.' He said all right and kind of bit the bullet for a second."
    Meanwhile, North's teammate Humberto Alvarez was back on the field — that alone was deeply significant. Scoring a goal against the Chillers was just icing on the cake for the former South Medford standout, who took part in a bone marrow transplant in 2011 to help his brother Marco, who was battling lymphoma.
    Along with North and Alvarez, Greg Rapet, Jose Cabrera, Jose Mendoza, Felipe Sanchez Castro, David Sixtos Villa, Jose Alegria and Brently Sturm also netted goals against the Ashland club.
    A smiling Marco stood close to Humberto on Sunday afternoon as his older brother spoke of a recent setback. Humberto had back surgery about 21/2 months ago. He said he had hoped to play at Humboldt State last year but couldn't because of pain.
    "My back has never been the same (since the procedure)," he said. "It got to the point where I couldn't even lift my legs. It's been a year since I played. It's been so long. I've missed it so much."
    "It's an emotional tournament," added Humberto, who is still regaining his strength. "I grew up with these kids and this will be the last time I can play with them, and I thought I wouldn't even be able to."
    Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt
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