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South girls ground Eagles

McConnell scores two goals as Panthers control action in SOC girls soccer opener

EAGLE POINT ' Shawna Olson and Bethany Stousland had one thing in common in Tuesday's Southern Oregon Conference girls soccer season opener.

They played the same position.

Other than that, the two goalkeepers had completely different perspectives on South Medford's 4-0 victory.

Senior forward Emma McConnell helped force Eagle Point keeper Olson into a busy afternoon with two goals, and the defending SOC champion Panthers started the new conference format with a win.

This year, each team plays the others twice rather than once and at the expense of nonconference games.

— South peppered the Eagles' senior keeper with a relentless barrage of shots, while Stousland found herself involved in just two plays in the South goalie box.

I thought Shawna did an awesome job, said first-year Eagle Point coach Paul Munyon. I don't know many other keepers around that could have made the saves she did.

She was very inspired out there.

Olson, who saw 10 shots in each half come her way, hadn't even broken a sweat when South broke up a scoreless tie.

McConnell found the net just 1&

189; minutes in off an assist from Jill Waldport, then sent the Panthers into the half with her second goal off an assist from Kelsey Corbin in the 32nd.

Freshman forward Damiann Compher assisted on a Chelsie O'Neill goal early in the second half, and Compher kept one for herself 15 minutes later to complete the scoring.

The first half, the seniors were working really well together, said South coach Cindy Jolly. I think in the second half, we focused more on moving the ball around a little more.

Corbin, a first-team all-SOC performer for South's 11-3 squad last year, helped keep Eagle Point on the defensive for all but a couple of minutes in the final half.

Kelsey is just in complete control out there, said Jolly of her senior halfback. I feel so comfortable with her out there.

The Eagles, who return only three seniors, had two opportunities in the opening 40 minutes.

Junior midfielder Hayley Ward found herself alone with Stousland, but her attempt on goal landed right in the hands of the South keeper.

Senior Sheyanne Bier was also active in the first half for Eagle Point, though her lone shot on goal nailed the crossbar and harmlessly bounded away to Stousland.

We decided to put different people up (front), said Munyon, who took over coaching duties following Tim Sweeney's departure. I wanted to test (South's) defense a little bit and see how they reacted.

Very well, unfortunately for Eagle Point.

The lack of a scoring push by the Eagles did provide some exciting moments for Olson, however.

South had three straight opportunities within two minutes midway through the opening half.

Olson survived them all and turned in a pair of diving stops and one point-blank save off the foot of McConnell.

Eagle Point gets another crack at South. The two meet again on Oct. 2 at Spiegelberg Stadium.

The lack of nonconference games to start the season forced the Panthers, who didn't play a jamboree, and the Eagles into a trial-by-fire situation.

I don't think we've jelled yet, said Jolly, in her second year with South. We made some mistakes. I think we just need a little more time.

Despite the lopsided defeat, Munyon saw a lot of promise from his junior-dominated lineup.

They're coming together out there, he said. There were a lot of positive things that we can take from this game and work with.

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South Medford's Emma McConnell, right, attempts to work around Eagle Point's Elisha Rasor during Tuesday's match. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli