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South squads set for second round

The state playoffs are hardly unfamiliar territory for the South Medfordboys and girls soccer teams.

The Panthers have made the boys state Class 4A quarterfinals the lasttwo years and five of the eight years Wally Hicks has coached the team.

South's girls were knocked out in the first round a year ago but madethe quarterfinals in 1995 and the semifinals in both 1993 and 1994 underDave Potter's guidance.

Today, the two veteran coaches lead their squads north for second-roundmatchups. South's boys face McKay in Salem at — p.m., while the girls battleCentennial in Gresham at 4 p.m.

In Class 3A-2A-1A playoff action today, the Hidden Valley boys face WesternMennonite in Salem at 2:30 p.m., while the North Valley boys play host toPleasant Hill at 2 p.m. In girls action, Hidden Valley travels to PleasantHill at 2:30 p.m.

Both South teams are looking to rebound from subpar playoff runs a yearago. The Panther girls were stopped 2-0 by Lake Oswego.

The biggest surprise of last year was the South boys' 1-0 loss to NorthBend. South came in as the nation's eighth-ranked team and shared the No.1 spot in the state with Crescent Valley.

Our big deal has always been that we play defense first,says Hicks. Last year we broke down for 30 seconds and it cost us.''

The disappointment the loss brought has not been forgotten, althoughHicks says the team rarely speaks of the loss.

They probably remember it better than I do, he says. Theyare pretty well convinced they don't want that to happen again. We don'ttalk about it much but it's there.

Hicks says South's defense has more focus this year -- something he hopeswill protect his club against a similar slip-up.

It's just a matter of everybody keeping their eyes open,he says. Hopefully, we won't make the big mistake.

The Panthers have two minor health concerns. Both defender Seth Parksand midfielder Chad Day are nursing sore ankles.

In McKay, three-time Southern Oregon Conference champion South (12-1-1)faces the second-place finisher in the Valley League. The Scots (7-1-1)are led by all-league midfielders Hector Macias and Juan Flores, as wellas striker Joel Garcia. McKay beat Cleveland 6-0 in the first round.

The South Medford girls bring a young squad into the second round, butPotter hopes that a few experienced players from last year's team can helptheother cope with the intensity of playoff games.

We learned something about state-tournament pressure, saysPotter of last year's experience. Hopefully, we have some girls thatcan weather that pressure because it's there.

Senior goalie Amber Bates has played in the state playoffs all four years,while senior midfielders Anna Bartlett and Sonya Miller both have been inplayoff action three times.

They are especially important because we have such a youthful team,says Potter. We are starting two or three freshmen and only threeseniors.

The Panthers (11-4) got a good introduction to playoff pressure in Saturday's3-2 win over Churchill, a match in which South had to maintain a slim edgefor the final 25 minutes.

South Medford enters today's match relatively healthy, despite a scareSaturday.

Freshman defender Emily Perttu was kicked on the ankle just below theshin guard and had to leave the game. She returned in the second half andPotter expects to be near full strength today.

One thing we've got to take care of is health, Potter says.That's something you can get stung by in the state tournament. There'sno recovery time. Any injury like what happened to Perttu could be devastating.

Centennial finished third in the Mount Hood Conference. The Eagles, whoare led by all-conference players Amy Wronski and Misty Mateny, topped MountainView of Bend 3-1 on Saturday.

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