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Susu-Mago scores quick hat trick as Grizzlies rout Hornets

Calysta Susu-Mago operated in the shadows as Ashland’s standout sweeper last season, content to steer the Grizzlies’ defense while others racked up goals and headlines.

Now that she’s been moved to striker, Susu-Mago is having no trouble adjusting to the spotlight. The senior needed only 15 minutes to score her first varsity hat trick Tuesday, leading Ashland to a 5-0 nonleague win over Henley at North Mountain Park.

Susu-Mago, who also scored a goal in Ashland’s 2-2 draw against St. Mary’s on Saturday, connected in the sixth, ninth and 15th against the Hornets, who were playing their first game of the season.

“(Susu-Mago’s) always been a phenomenal player but she’s been a sweeper the last few years,” Ashland head coach Eric Wolff said. “As a sweeper, you don’t always get notes in the paper, but she’s always been great on the ball, great touch. It’s impossible to get the ball from her. She’s been playing striker for a Medford team in the winter and we had a need at striker for us, so it’s been a perfect transition.”

The win was the Grizzlies’ first after they settled for a pair of ties, including a 0-0 draw against Grants Pass. Ashland has five games remaining on its preseason schedule, including Saturday’s game at North Valley, before opening Midwestern League play Oct. 3 at North Eugene.

Susu-Mago certainly did her part to ensure that the Grizzlies would not have a letdown against the Class 4A Hornets. Her onslaught began in the sixth, when sophomore Hannah Haptonstall dribbled to the end line before crossing to a wide-open Susu-Mago in the penalty box. Susu-Mago kicked it in to give the Grizzlies the only goal they would need.

Three minutes later, sophomore Olivia West found Susu-Mago in the box for another picture-perfect connection.

In the 15th Susu-Mago capped her spectacular opening half when sophomore Mya Elder-Hammond sent a long, diagonal pass over the defense. Susu-Mago did the rest, dribbling around the Henley keeper to give Ashland a 3-0 lead.

Ashland added two more insurance goals in the second half. Elder-Hammond capitalized on a penalty kick after a Henley defender stopped a would-be goal with her hands, and senior Ia Bakbuena-Nedrow finished off a nice assist from Elder-Hammond to cap the scoring.

“(Bakbuena-Nedrow) and (Elder-Hammond) both have great vision,” Wolff said. “Short balls, long balls, they distributed the ball well today.

“They had some very nice combinations today. Unfortunately for Henley, this was their first game and we’ve already had two tough games, so we were game ready and Henley had that long trip over the hill.”

Boys Soccer

At Klamath Falls, junior forward Bryce Rollins scored both goals for Ashland, including the equalizer with four minutes to play, as the Grizzlies tied Henley 2-2 in a nonconference game Tuesday.

There was no overtime.

Lake Peterson gave Henley the initial lead with a goal in the 30th minute. The Grizzlies (1-0-1) tied the game three minutes later when Rollins poked in a shot off a corner kick by Stenley Graham.

The Hornets regained the lead on Josh Ledgerwood's goal in the 54th minute. Rollins tied the game on a low shot from 16 yards off a through ball from Aidan Locklin.

Ashland goalie Ferriccio Lemley preserved the tie with an excellent save late in the game.

The Grizzlies also received strong defensive play from Declan Hinkley and Ian Rinefort.

Volleyball

At Central Point, Ashland rallied from a two-sets-to-none deficit to defeat Crater in the Midwestern League opener for both teams, 25-27, 20-25, 25-16, 25-21, 15-3, Tuesday at Crater High School.

The Grizzlies (6-2, 1-0 MWL) rode the strong serving of Karlie Richardson to a 6-0 lead in the decisive fifth set and cruised from there. Richardson, a senior setter, had two aces in the fifth and five for the match to go with 32 assists.

Also for Ashland, Ellie Case had 10 kills, six blocks and five aces, Olivia Rooney 11 kills, Myla Norvell 25 digs and Marina Tacconi nine kills.

“I think tonight we started off with a little bit of nerves because it was our first league game,” Ashland head coach Robin Akpan said. “It took us a while to get into system, but in the third set we kind of just dug down and said, ‘No more, we gotta just play.’ And so we started forcing play and digging balls. Then our energy picked up and the momentum went our way.”

Akpan said Case and Richardson were the catalysts. That was especially the case in the fourth set, when Ashland used long service runs by the two seniors to force a fifth set.

Ashland has won five of its last six matches and has high hopes heading into Friday’s showdown with No. 1-ranked Marist, in Eugene.

“We’re feeling like it’s a good start to our season,” she said, “we just gotta keep pushing.”

— Frank Silow contributed to this report.