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Fuego to host college team in exhibition opener

Local soccer club boasts SOC player of the year Fisher, two other Ashland High players

Three players that starred on Ashland High’s 2005 boys soccer team will be lacing it up at Walter A. Phillips Field this weekend, but not for the Grizzlies.

Southern Oregon Conference player of the year Cory Fisher, along with two of his former AHS teammates, Alex Murray and Nico Walker, will play for the Southern Oregon Fuego when it takes on the Southwestern Oregon Community College Lakers at 7 p.m. Sunday.

The game kicks off the seventh exhibition season for the Fuego, the aspiring semipro soccer club co-founded here by Jorge Yant and longtime team captain Iman Siadat. After a modest start in 2000 that included a few exhibitions over the summer, the duo is now using European clubs as a model, branching out by forming and coaching Fuego youth teams.

The first of those teams, the Fuego U18 girls premier club, recently became the first Rogue Valley team to win a State Cup championship in seven years and will play in this weekend’s Rogue Valley Cup.

“We’ve been making small gains every year,” Siadat said.

Fisher, Murray and Walker helped the Grizzlies win their second straight SOC championship and advance to the Class 4A state quarterfinals last November. Fisher, a senior, is done representing Ashland High, but Murray (sophomore) and Walker (junior) will likely return.

According to Siadat, Fisher has already worked his way into the Fuego starting lineup and will probably see plenty of playing time against a Southwestern Oregon squad that won a league title last season with an 8-3-7 regular season record.

The Lakers compete in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges and were led last season by top scorer Braner Dantest, a 6-foot-3 forward from Elmira High.

“My guess is, they’ll have a mixed caliber of players,” Siadat said. “I wouldn’t underestimate them by any means. Any team that’s a league champion is going to be (competitive).”

The Fuego went 4-1-1 during a “preseason” that included a hard-fought 2-0 loss to Oregon State and a 3-0 win over a Mexican League team last week.

Admission to Sunday’s game is $6 for adults and $3 for children ages 6-12. Rogue Valley Cup teams will get a discount and children under 6 will be admitted free.