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Munyon's late goal lifts North girls past South; Tornado-Panthers to meet again for state seeding

With one swift, sweet swing of her left foot, Lisa Munyon made the Southern Oregon Conference girls soccer season a whole lot more complicated.

Munyon's goal with less than a minute remaining boosted North Medford to a 2-1 victory over South Medford on Tuesday at Hoffbuhr Field.

Coupled with Klamath Union's 2-1 win over Grants Pass, North's triumph gives the SOC a three-way tie for the regular-season championship as the Black Tornado (9-2-3 overall), the Panthers (10-2-1) and the Pelicans (10-4) each finish 6-1.

In order to determine seeding for the Class 4A state playoffs, the three teams will now conduct a two-match mini-tournament.

KU won a coin toss Tuesday evening at North Medford High and will have a bye until Saturday afternoon. North, by virtue of its victory over South on Tuesday, got to choose whether it wanted to be home or away for Thursday's match, and head coach Dick Darcy took the home field.

Just like Tuesday, North and South will meet Thursday at — p.m. at Hoffbuhr Field. The loser is saddled with the SOC's third seed, which means a trip to Midwestern League No. 2 for the first round of the playoffs Nov. 2.

The winner moves on to play KU at noon Saturday. Whichever team ends up with the SOC's No. — seed will host Pac-9 Conference No. 2 in the first round. SOC No. 2 stays home to play Three Rivers League No. 2.

When Munyon struck for Tuesday's game-winner, she wasn't thinking about turning the SOC into a convoluted mess. She just wanted to beat South and earn a piece of the conference title in what could have been the last home match of her prep career.

It was absolutely amazing, Munyon said of her 11th goal of the fall. I was almost in tears. It's like a dream way to end your senior year. On your home field, against your cross-town rival ' I mean, you could never dream it better.

The play began as a Tornado corner kick. After sophomore left midfielder Emily Gross' cross was initially cleared by Panthers senior central midfielder Emily Smith's header, North junior fullback Carly Shields chipped the ball back into South's penalty box.

With a crowd of players from both teams still lingering in the area, Munyon fashioned her magic act.

The ball popped to the left side of the goal, and Munyon, under pressure from about 8 yards out, met it with her left foot. The shot blazed across the goal mouth and to the left of Panthers junior goalkeeper Amanda Steiger's outstretched arms, scorching into the net with 40 seconds to play in regulation.

I heard (the referee's) watch beep on the corner kick, and so I knew there was like seconds left, said Munyon, a senior central midfielder. Once you hear the watch, that means it's extra time right there.

South head coach Buzz Thielemann, still somewhat in disbelief, gave credit where it was due.

Lisa Munyon won the game for them, he said. She's got my vote for MVP (of the SOC). ... We could not contain her throughout the match. And that was a great volley. It was a wonderful shot.

The Tornado took the early lead on junior forward/midfielder Stephanie Mendenhall's header about 10 minutes into the match. Gross, working down the left sideline, sent in a cross, and Mendenhall re-directed it off a bounce past Steiger, who had charged off her goal line to near the top of the penalty box.

The Panthers tied it in the 25th minute after a flurry of attacking action.

Following Smith's close-range shot that was deflected by North sophomore goalkeeper Caitlin Seeley and bounded off the left post, South junior forward Amber Stevens drove in her second straight cross. This one skipped off the hand of a Tornado defender, earning a Panthers penalty kick an instant before sophomore right midfielder Emma McConnell deposited the ball in the back of the net.

Junior sweeper Courtney Quinowski put South's goal back on the board by beating Seeley to the keeper's left.

Later in the opening half, Seeley came up big on back-to-back scoring chances for the Panthers.

First, she came out to deflect sophomore forward Kelsey Corbin's shot off a pass from McConnell, and McConnell blasted the rebound over the crossbar. Seconds later, freshman forward Katrina Stevens got free, but Seeley dove to knock away her well-taken try.

In the second half, Seeley aggressively came out to dispossess Smith on a breakaway.

South outshot North 10-8 in the first half and 14-11 overall.

But the play of Seeley and the Tornado fullbacks negated any offensive advantage the Panthers had.

In particular, sophomore fullback Emily Hanson stood out. A JV player until last week, Hanson frustrated South leading-scorer Amber Stevens with speed and tenacity and even hustled back to knock Corbin's near-goal off the line early in the second half.

She's a fireball, said Darcy, who is now 5-2 against the Panthers in his seven seasons at North, including a similar, last-second victory in 1998. She's been a great find for us. Absolutely, she was the player of the match. Emily just totally shut (Stevens) down.

The thing of it is, (South) saw what we were early on (this season), and we're not that team anymore. We've got our defense changed, and we're good to go now.

With just today to recover, North and South go at it again in Round 2 on Thursday.

Reach reporter Tim Pyle at 776-4483 or e-mail