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Grizzlies trounce South Medford, improve to 5-1

Ashland’s free-flowing offense dribbled circles around another opponent and its defense continued its stellar start to the season as the Grizzlies beat South Medford 3-1 in a nonleague boys soccer match Tuesday at South Medford High School.

Ben Lucero, Bryce Rollins and Jade Boucher each scored a goal for Ashland, which has tallied three goals or more in four of its six games. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies’ defense, led by outside backs Jackson Witters and Drew Kutcher, held another Class 6A team in check.

Ashland has allowed only four goals this season, all scored on free kicks.

“South Medford was pressuring them and both (Witters and Kutcher) played really well,” Ashland coach Brad Roupp said. “And our goalkeeper, Cedar Barnes, is playing very efficiently in goal and doing a good job.”

The victory was the third in a row for Ashland (5-1), which continues its Midwestern League slate Saturday at home against Churchill.

Roupp said the Grizzlies, who are averaging 3.2 goals per game, are punishing opposing defenses by playing unselfish soccer.

“Ashland is passing the ball with one- and two-touch quick passing really well and everybody that watched the game said, ‘Wow, that is some great ball movement,’” Roupp said. “We’re becoming very efficient with ball movement and we’re attacking fast.”

A decent portion of that offense has come from the Grizzlies’ ability to transition from defense to offense, Roupp added, noting his team’s pace is difficult for opponents to handle.

The players’ dedication between matches, he said, has been another key to their success.

“We have a bunch of players that are focused and they have goals that they want to meet and they are in practices playing hard,” he said. “Our practices are almost like games sometimes. It’s intense and people are fighting for their position and their playing time and it’s just making for an exciting early part of the season.”

Prep Volleyball

Ashland swept Churchill to pick up its third straight Midwestern League victory Tuesday at Mountain Avenue Gym.

Led by Myla Norvell’s 15 kills and 19 digs the Grizzlies (5-3, 4-2 MWL) beat Churchill 25-21, 25-15, 25-20.

Also for Ashland, Soleil Heller had 36 assists and Julia Senestraro 17 digs.

Churchill fell to 5-6 overall and 4-2 in MWL play.

Ashland travels to Eugene to play Springfield on Thursday.