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Warren finds it's lonely in goal

In goal, Chad Warren has lots of free time on his hands.

Please excuse Chad Warren while he takes a side job as the lonely Maytagrepairman.

Warren wants some action, any action, and he's not getting much whileplaying goalkeeper for the South Medford High soccer team.

Warren is regarded as one of the top goalies in the state. He has beena first-team all-conference selection for three straight seasons. In SouthernOregon Conference play this fall, Warren didn't allow a single goal.

Zero. Zilch. Goose-egg city.

But while Warren can turn into a human flak jacket when it comes to stoppingshots, the truth is, he hasn't had to terminate very many.

Warren's teammates, you see, muck things up like hogs in a feed troughbefore he has a chance to get his hands on the ball.

It's a problem all goalies like to have, the 6-foot-1, 180-poundWarren says. Sometimes when I'm standing back there I just want torip off my goalie jersey and join in on the action.

But Warren is the last line of defense and he may well be tested thisevening when the Panthers meet South Eugene for the Class 4A state championship.The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Wilsonville High School.

It's one of those things where you want some action, but not toomuch action, Warren says. You like to get challenged once ina while, but no goalie likes getting hammered back there. When that happens,something usually gets through.

Not much has sifted through the South goalmouth in 1997, however. ThePanthers, 14-1-1 and ranked No. 2 in the state poll, have allowed just sevengoals all season and only four in their last 14 contests.

Much of the credit for the stinginess belongs to South's back line: sweeperDan Lupes, stopper Seth Parks and fullbacks Jesse Rowden and Matt Hogge.

That whole bunch in the back line is special, South Medfordcoach Wally Hicks says. They have great quickness and they rarelyget out of position.

In the few times that Warren has been challenged recently, he's comethrough. He rebuffed a hard blast in the Panthers' 2-0 first-round stateplayoff win over Clackamas, laying himself out and knocking the ball overthe crossbar.

He also had a nice save in Tuesday's 3-0 win over Mountain View, repellinga hard header from point-blank range.

But most of Warren's impressive saves have come during practice, whenthe South players lambaste him with 150 to 200 shots several times a week.

There are times when we'll knock in three or four shots in a row,Lupes says, but Chad more than holds his own.

Much of Warren's value comes as the verbal leader of the team. He constantlydirects and encourages the defensive players.

I'm just making sure the other guys don't lose their marks (men),Warren says. In the back we play a lot of man-to-man (defense) andonce in a while one of our guys gets out of position. I've got a good viewof things, so I might as well be helping out.

As a four-year starter and a player who has participated on all-starteams for years, Warren has the respect of his teammates.

I'm always looking back at him to see if he has something to say,Lupes says. I have so much respect for him.

Chad also does a good job of calming us down when we get too emotional.

Even though Warren is the last line of defense, he often initiates scoringopportunities. His punts and drop kicks from the goal box not only travellong distances, but he can place them with pinpoint accuracy.

His booming punts often go directly to an open midfielder or striker,who can suddenly create a scoring opportunity.

He mis-hits very few balls, Hicks says.

Warren has occasionally doffed his bright-colored goalie shirt and playedin the field. He even scored a goal.

My teammates were instructed to get me the ball, Warren says,and I thumped one through. But most of the time I stood around andcoughed. I'm not in shape to run around like that.

Warren will be perfectly content to stand around some more during tonight'smatch.

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Warren finds it's lonely in goal