ASHLAND — Ben Lucero’s goal in the opening minute off an Ian Rinefort assist gave Ashland the early momentum, and the two hooked up again for the put-away goal in the final minute as the Grizzlies clinched the Midwestern League boys soccer championship with a 3-1 victory over Marist Friday.
Lucero finished with two goals and Rinefort a goal and two assists for the Grizzlies, who wrapped up a perfect 7-0 run through one of the toughest conferences in the state and now must wait to see who they’ll face in the first round of the 16-team Class 5A state tournament Nov. 1.
Rinefort scored a goal from 10 yards out off Joseph Wallner-Sentle’s corner kick in the 33rd minute to give the Grizzlies (11-1-2) a 2-0 lead.
Marist (9-4, 5-1), which employed a counterattack strategy, tallied its lone goal in the 65th to infuse some drama into the home stretch.
Ashland ended any hope of a comeback in the final seconds when Rinefort capped a long dribble drive with another fine pass to Lucero, who scored.
NORTH MEDFORD 1, GRANTS PASS 0: Senior Madison Morgan scored the lone goal for host North Medford, which won its third straight Southwest Conference match and is in contention for a postseason berth when OSAA rankings freeze tonight.
The Black Tornado (4-8-1, 4-7-1 SWC) is locked into fifth place in the conference. The top four teams earn automatic berths. State power rankings determine other qualifiers.
Morgan scored in the 32nd minute. She collected the ball at midfield and split the center backs before scoring.
Courtney Denn had a strong game for North Medford, starting at center back, then spelling Morgan at midfield.
MARIST 3, CRATER 0: At Central Point, Crater’s 33 errors didn’t allow the Comets to get into a good rhythm in dropping the Midwestern League home match, 25-13, 25-17, 25-20.
Junior outside hitter Nehkyah Ellis paced the Crater attack with eight kills and three aces. Crater (8-6, 9-8 MWL) received five kills and one block from middle blocker Maya Van Hook, who returned to the lineup after suffering an ankle injury almost three weeks ago.
THURSTON 3, ASHLAND 1: At Eugene, Grace Angermeier and Alex Crane were outstanding, but Ashland couldn't capitalize on its first-set victory in the Midwestern League loss, 17-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-21.
Angermeier had 28 assists, seven digs and two aces, and Crane nine kills, seven digs and two aces for the Grizzlies (5-12, 5-8 MWL).
Also for Ashland, Emily DeVall had six kills and six digs, Sophia Rooney nine kills and Rosie Dean five aces.