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Tornado defense shines in whitewash

Two defensive-oriented Southern Oregon Conference boys soccer sides suffocated each other for 80 minutes Tuesday.

When it was over, North Medford High and Klamath Union had battled to a 0-0 standoff in a season-opening non-conference match at District Field.

I'm pleased with how we played for a first game, said North coach Rich Garcia, praising his defensive team and an offense that peppered the Klamath Union goal with what Garcia called point-blank shots during the final 10 minutes.

But North Medford could not get a ball in the net against relentless Klamath Union goalkeeper Daniel Gailis.

Their goalkeeper did a great job, said Garcia. Against a lot of teams, we get a couple of those shots to go in.

North Medford midfielder Scott Jolly had three shots rejected by Gailis and Aaron Abbott, Dominic Crenshaw and Johnny Whitaker of the Black Tornado also had shots turned away.

SOC rules prohibit league teams from playing overtime shootouts in non-conference play, said Garcia.

I'm fine with it ending like this, he said. Both teams go away feeling good about a game like this. When it's this early in the season, that's a good thing.

North Medford goalkeeper Chris Barringer, playing his first match, had four saves.

Chris is going to be tough in goal, and our defense helped him out by playing hard, said Garcia. I wasn't sure how we could come out today, but now I know. We came out to play hard and win.

That's a good sign, said Garcia, This is the best-passing team I've had in two years, and we played pretty well, although we need to get in better shape.

Garcia said he was pleased with the play of Barringer, junior sweeper Joshua Grace and sophomore Benjamin Clark at the defensive end, and Abbott, Jolly, Whitaker, and Crenshaw on offense.

Grace kept our defense together, said Garcia. He has good ball skills, and he's one of the fastest guys on the field. He helped our defense shut them down.

North Medford outshot the Pelicans 15-5. The Black Tornado finished with a 4-2 edge in corner kicks.

We got some good shots and we should have scored, said Clark. I think we can play better. Our placement of shots needs to get better, but we are going to be good.

North Medford plays at Corvallis High Friday at 4:30 p.m. The Black Tornado plays at top-rated South Eugene on Saturday at noon.

Those will be real good tests for us, said Garcia. Both teams are ranked in the top five in the state.

I like to play good teams like that in the preseason. It gets us ready for the conference.