Ruben Rodriguez scored the go-ahead goal in the final two minutes, lifting the South Medford boys soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Roseburg on Tuesday at South Medford High.
Rodriguez, a sophomore midfielder/forward, recovered the ball from Roseburg defenders on the left side of the field, dribbled it toward the center and cracked it with his right foot into the upper right corner of the net, past the diving keeper.
It was the first victory of the regular season and the Southwest Conference season for the youthful Panthers (1-2, 1-2 SWC), who were defeated handily in their opening two matches.
“I asked the boys to play as a team and play a little simpler,” South coach Claudio Villa said. “Sometimes playing simple is the hardest thing to do.”
“Hopefully the momentum will shift a little bit and the boys will gain confidence moving forward,” he added.
The Indians (1-2, 0-2) scored the opening goal in the 22nd minute and led 1-0 at halftime.
South got the equalizer in the 65th minute on a penalty kick by senior midfielder Justice Evans. The goal was set up by junior forward Raul Maya, who was tackled late in the penalty box by a Roseburg defender.
Enrique Tovar, a senior, was outstanding on defense for the Panthers, keeping the backline together after South surrendered the early goal to fall behind.
“He played his heart out,” Villa said.
NORTH MEDFORD 2, SHELDON 1: At Eugene, North Medford stayed unbeaten in conference play.
Caleb Forte scored a goal and assisted on another for the Black Tornado (2-1, 2-0), which nearly shut out the Irish (0-2, 0-1) before allowing a late score on a scramble play that barely trickled across the line.
Jordan Higuera netted the first goal for North, breaking a scoreless tie in the 50th minute with a one-timer from 25 yards out.
Forte padded North’s lead in the 65 minute on a solo breakaway in which he split a pair of defenders and then beat the keeper with a well-placed strike to the bottom-right corner of the net.
Mauricio Paz, Carlos Cordoba and Luis Cerna had solid overall performances for the Black Tornado, which was victorious at Sheldon for the first time in six seasons under coach Michael Belzberg.
GRANTS PASS 2, SOUTH EUGENE 1: At Grants Pass, Jarod Lee scored in the 27th minute and John Paul Allen added a goal in the 51st minute for Grants Pass during Southwest Conference play.
The Cavemen (3-1, 2-0 SWC) led 1-0 at halftime against South Eugene (2-2, 1-1).
ASHLAND 2, EAGLE POINT 0: At Eagle Point, Leo Duetz scored in the 41st minute and Benjamin Lucero netted a goal in the 56th minute for Ashland in the nonleague contest.
Ian Rinefort and Jade Boucher added assists for the Grizzlies (2-0), who were in a scoreless tie at halftime with Eagle Point (0-2).
CRATER 7, SOUTH UMPQUA 1: Orfanel Aguirre and Parker Bryant both netted two goals for Crater in a nonleague match.
Ben Cranston, Oziel Aguirre and Jeremiah Berry added one goal apiece for the Comets (1-1-1), who led comfortably throughout, tallying the first three scores before giving up a goal in the 21st minute to the Lancers (0-3), who’ve been outscored 27-2 this season.
PHOENIX 1, BROOKINGS 1: At Phoenix, junior forward Bryson Flenner scored in the 35th minute on a gorgeous finish from 12 yards out to put Phoenix on top, but Phoenix allowed the equalizer in the 58th minute and settled for a nonleague tie against Brookings.
Senior keeper Gio Cook made four saves and Randy Rodriguez recorded an assist for the Pirates (0-2-2), who outshot Brookings, 11-8.
Austin Fronckowiak scored the lone goal for the Bruins (1-0-1).