Grizzlies keep rolling
Eric Wolff would love for his Ashland High girls soccer team to connect on a few more of its scoring opportunities, but he can’t complain about the way the Grizzlies are getting those chances.
Ashland’s superior ball movement generated 26 shots on goal and the Grizzlies made good on three of those Tuesday, plenty good enough for a 3-0 nonleague victory over Eagle Point at Eagle Stadium in Eagle Point.
“We’re playing great team ball right now,” Wolff said. “We have great passing combinations.”
The Grizzlies (5-2-1), who haven’t lost since Sept. 3, took the lead for good in the 35th minute when sophomore Lily Annen took a give-and-go pass from junior Tia Wilhelm on her way to the near post and kicked it in for the 1-0 lead.
In the 48th minute, junior Olivia West and junior Mya Elder-Hammond executed a similar combination, with West’s pass setting up Elder-Hammond’s shot from the middle of the box.
In the 65th, Ashland freshman Mikayla Titus was fouled in the box and booted home the penalty kick for the final margin.
The win was Ashland’s fifth in its last six games, with Saturday’s scoreless tie at Churchill the Grizzlies’ only blemish since their 0-2 start to the season. Ashland has outscored its opponents 14-0 in that span, and Wolff believes the margin could have been more lopsided.
“Today, we played a beautiful game but we had a hard time putting the ball in the net,” he said. “We kept shooting it over the goal or wide. …But we had beautiful looks on goal. It was just one of those can’t-put-the-ball-in-the-net kind of games. But the opportunities are there and that’s great.”
After surrendering six goals to Mountain View and Bend in the first two games, Ashland’s defense has engineered six straight shutouts. Wolff said that’s because the Grizzlies’ retooled defense has gained the chemistry that can only come with game experience.
“For one, in the first couple of games we had a whole new defense in there and that took some time getting used to,” he said. “We have a brand new goalkeeper, she’s new to the school. We have a new center defender. Even though they may have had the skills, they just weren’t on the same page, especially in that very first game. So now the defense gets to know each other, they’re playing really well together and they’re making it tough for every opponent.”
Eagle Point fell to 2-5.
Ashland continues its Midwestern League schedule Friday at home against Thurston.
Senior Bryce Rollins scored two goals in the second half to lift Ashland over Eagle Point, 2-0, in a nonleague match Tuesday at Walter A. Phillips Field.
Rollins broke a scoreless tie in the 53rd minute, controlling junior Ben Lucero’s one-touch pass and connecting from close range.
In the 79th, sophomore Joseph Wallner-Sentle passed to Rollins, who fired a low shot just inside the far post to give Ashland an insurance goal.
“We’re playing great soccer,” said Ashland coach Abdi Guled, whose team improved to 7-1 overall following its fifth straight victory. “The team is trying to work hard on teamwork and sharing the ball and they’re trying to find more open guys. Next pass, next pass, and it’s working.”
Eagle Point fell to 4-4.
Ashland continues its Midwestern League schedule Friday at Thurston.
At Springfield, senior outside hitter Myla Norvell had 16 kills and nine digs and senior setter Soleil Heller 31 assists as Ashland continued its midseason surge with a straight-set victory over Thurston on Tuesday at Thurston High School.
The Grizzlies earned their fourth straight Midwestern League victory by taming the Colts 25-21, 25-20, 25-17. The win, Ashland’s third straight-set victory in a row, improved the Grizzlies to 6-3 overall and 5-2 in the MWL. Thurston fell to 5-6 and 2-4.
Alex Crane had five kills and seven digs and Marina Tacconi 11 digs for Ashland. Also for the Grizzlies, Stella Bungay had 11 digs.