EUGENE — South Medford’s bid to close the gap in the Southwest Conference girls soccer race hit a snag late Saturday when South Eugene converted a free kick with about four minutes to play for a 1-0 triumph.

South Eugene moved to 6-0 in SWC play and 6-1 overall, while the second-place Panthers (4-2-2, 3-1-2) fell seven points off the pace with the loss.

“They’re a tough team,” said Panthers head coach Chris Hollewijn of the Axemen. “They’re obviously leading the league and you could see why. They defend well and get numbers behind the ball and their goalkeeper does a good job, they were pretty tidy back there.”

The game turned on a foul call with players from each side running down the side of the field. On an ensuing free kick from just outside the goal box, South Eugene senior Emily Boettcher placed her kick just inside the far post for the go-ahead goal.

South Medford had several scoring chances throughout the match by Whitney Winans, Chloe Alvarez, Ula Chamberlin and Talia Hutchins but each failed to materialize into a goal for the snake-bitten Panthers.

“I felt like we had more and better chances through the game,” said Hollewijn. “Over the duration in the second half we were piling the pressure on and just could not find a breakthrough.”

The Panthers will look to capitalize more Tuesday when they play host to North Medford at 6 p.m. at South Medford High.

WILLAMETTE 2, GRANTS PASS 0: At Eugene, Ashley Guldager had a goal and an assist for Willamette in a rainy SWC contest.

Allison Booth scored in the 14th minute off a Guldager assist, and the senior capped the scoring with a perfectly placed left-footed shot from 26 yards out on a free kick in the 49th minute for the Wolverines (4-3, 3-2 SWC).

Grants Pass (3-4-1, 2-4-1) received strong showings from Liz Williams and Abby Torgerson but the Cavers weren’t able to create many scoring opportunities in a midfield-based game that saw GP put two shots on goal and Willamette post only three.

ASHLAND 3, THURSTON 0: At Springfield, Ashland seniors Mya Elder Hammond and Tia Wilhelm had their hands in all three goals as the Grizzlies opened Midwestern League play with a shutout victory.

Elder Hammond scored in the sixth minute off an assist by Wilhelm for the Grizzlies (5-1-1, 1-0 MWL), then they reversed roles when Wilhelm scored with Elder Hammond’s help in the 27th minute. In the 38th minute, Wilhelm was fouled in the box to set up a penalty kick that Elder Hammond converted for the final tally.

Taylor Buckley made three saves to preserve the shutout.

NORTH EUGENE 5, CRATER 0: At Central Point, center midfielder Izabella Martinez was solid in distributing the ball for Crater and fellow freshman Ayden Wycoff made 13 stops on defense but North Eugene proved too much in the Midwestern League match at Dutch Meyer Field.

North Eugene (7-1, 2-0 MWL) opened a 4-0 lead by halftime and continued to hold off the Comets (2-5, 0-2) in the second half.

MARIST 7, EAGLE POINT 0: At Eugene, Eagle Point was held scoreless for the fourth straight game in falling to 0-2 in Midwestern League play and 1-4-1 overall with the road loss.

League-leading Marist moved to 6-2-1 overall and 2-0 in MWL play.