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Soaring into league play

Some of the Grizzlies are sick and some are nursing injuries. But heading into their first league match, all of them are undefeated.

The Ashland High girls soccer team ensured it would head into Thursday’s Midwestern League opener at North Eugene with a unblemished record by skunking Eagle Point on Tuesday, 4-0, at North Mountain Park.

Mya Elder-Hammond scored a goal in the sixth minute and assisted on Ashland’s second goal, and the Grizzlies added two more insurance scores in the last 10 minutes to improve to 5-0-3.

The win was Ashland’s fourth straight and the shutout was its fifth. The Grizzlies have allowed only four goals all season, the second-best mark in the state behind only Summit.

“We played well, but we also had some bad parts, too,” Ashland coach Eric Wolff said. “We played too calm, too relaxed because we got that early lead. But I expect North Eugene to give us more pressure than Eagle Point was able to today.”

Elder-Hammond made it look easy on the first goal, controlling a long pass into the box from Tess Gibbs and calmly directing it into the goal with her left leg.

Ashland didn’t strike again until the 59th, when Elder-Hammond stole the ball near the end line and served up a perfect pass through a crowd to Hailee Hayes, who connected from point-blank range.

“(Elder-Hammond) drew all the defenders to her and it was just great vision on her part again,” Wolff said.

In the 70th, Ashland’s Ia Balbuena-Nedrow fired a shot from the top of the box that was deflected by a defender to Hannah Haptonstall, who angled in a shot from about eight yards out.

The Grizzlies tacked on one more with about three minutes to go when Olivia West was fouled in the box, leading to a penalty kick by Virginia Cotton.

The victory sends Ashland cruising into Eugene, but the Grizzlies won’t be at full strength there. Several players are battling sickness, Wolff said, and starting goalkeeper Berkeley Skuratowicz sprained her ankle last week and isn’t likely to return until next week at the earliest.

“I’m a little worried that our first league match is two days away,” Wolff said.

He added that in order for the Grizzlies to return to Ashland still undefeated Thursday night, they’ll have to play their “A” game.

“If we play as well as we can, we can win this game,” he said, “and if we don’t bring our best game we can easily lose. Technically, we’re even with North Eugene. It’s about who’s in better form that day and who wants it more.”

Boys Soccer

At Eagle Point, Bryce Rollins scored twice in the second half as Ashland rallied to beat Eagle Point 2-1 in a nonleague match at Eagle Stadium on Tuesday.

After the Eagles (5-2) took the lead on Miguel Robledo’s fourth-minute strike Rollins scored the equalizer early in the second half and added the go-ahead goal in the 63rd.

The win, the Grizzlies’ third in their last four games, improved Ashland to 4-2-1 heading into Saturday’s Midwestern League-opener at North Eugene.

Joe Zavala can be reached at 541-821-0829 or jzavala@dailytidings.com.

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