Pirates ambush Coquille in play-in rout
The No. 1 boys team in Class 4A soccer played like it Thursday.
Omar Iboa tallied a hat trick and Junior Esqueda led a suffocating defense as the Phoenix Pirates rolled to a 5-0 win over Coquille in a play-in game at U.S. Cellular Park.
The Pirates (10-3-1), rated No. 1 in the final OSAA power rankings, scored the only goal they would need 26 minutes into the game when Jesus DeLaCruz stole a pass, dribbled through the Red Devils' defense and went far post from 18 yards out. Iboa's first connection 10 minutes later gave Phoenix a 2-0 halftime lead and the Pirates took off from there to easily pocket their 10th win in a row.
The victory sends Phoenix streaking into the 16-team state playoffs, which begins Tuesday.
"They were a very good team, very skilled, well coached," Phoenix head coach Dennis Flenner said of the Red Devils (8-6). "They came to our jamboree, so I knew that they had some speed and had some athletes and I wouldn't be comfortable with the circumstances. There's nothing worse than playing a team that may not have had the success that we've had and then losing because you're overconfident. We were not."
Following their latest shutout — that makes four in their last five games — the Pirates probably aren't short on confidence, either.
Esqueda was the catalyst, smothering Coquille striker Cole Waddington all day and ensuring that the Pirates would spend most of the match on the attack. They did, surrendering only a handful of scoring opportunities while out-shooting the Red Devils, the fourth-place team from the Far West League, 26-4.
"(Waddington) was attacking down the middle of the field, and that's where (Esqueda) plays," Flenner said. "It brings the other team down when they can't get their passes through like that. And when your defense does a rally good job, it gives your strikers and your midfield an opportunity to have a really good game, and that's what they did today."
Iboa scored the first two goals of the second half to secure his hat trick following the 12-yard strike off a Jose Flores assist in the 36th minute. On his second score, in the 53rd, Iboa took advantage of a perfect pass from Alex Vela, who found Iboa right in front of the goal for an easy tap-in.
Three minutes later, Desi Hernandez split the Coquille defense with a through ball and Iboa took care of the rest, finishing from 12 yards out to give the Pirates a 4-0 lead.
Phoenix iced it with a little bravado in the 70th, when keeper Roberto Cook punched in a penalty kick.
Cook "very rarely" is called upon for penalty kicks, Flenner said. But in this case, the opportunity was too good to pass up.
"I wouldn't have done it if we weren't sitting on a nice lead with 10 minutes left in the game," Flenner added. "But he's a great shooter, and I trusted him to hit the shot "… I think he was marking his territory."
The Pirates had trouble finishing early on against Coquille's tall, athletic keeper, whom Flenner estimated to be 6-foot-4. Several shots were turned away through the first 25 minutes as Phoenix adjusted to his size.
"He made me nervous," Flenner said.
The Pirates will probably be making another 4A coach nervous when the first-round pairings are announced Monday. The Skyline Conference champions haven't lost since Oct. 5 and haven't allowed more than one goal in a game since Oct. 8.
If the Pirates continue to win, their No. 1 ranking guarantees home matches through at least the quarterfinals.
"That (No. 1 seed) is a bit of a target," Flenner said. "Everybody gets up for you like it's nobody's business, so it's no surprise that it took us 26 minutes to score."
NORTH VALLEY 2, ESTACADA 1 — At Estacada, wild-card play-in entry North Valley got a goal from Trinidad Flores with only 35 seconds remaining to advance to the 4A playoffs.
The Knights (5-8-1) play Tuesday against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.
Flores was waiting near the penalty area when Isaiah McLittle raced up the left side and crossed to him. Flores one-touched the ball across the face of the goal and into the net.
Jagger Bernacel scored North Valley's first goal on a pass from McLittle in the 30th minute, and Estacada tied it in the 55th minute following a corner kick.
NORTH BEND 4, HIDDEN VALLEY 2 — At Bend, a couple of quick strikes gave Hidden Valley a short-lived lead before North Bend took over and eliminated the Mustangs in a Class 4A play-in game.
After an early tally by North Bend, the Mustangs' Alan Rojas found the back of the net at the 21-minute mark a pass from Robin Klimczak to tie it up 1-all. Rojas then set up Sean Murphy for a goal just four minutes later to give the Mustangs (7-7) a 2-1 advantage.
North Bend, however, knotted the score back up five minutes before halftime and took the lead for good in the 51st minute, then added another goal with 30 seconds to play.
HIDDEN VALLEY 5, ELMIRA 0 — At Murphy, Hidden Valley stepped on the gas early with four first-half goals in the 4A play-in match.
The Mustangs (8-5-1) will play an opponent to be determined in the first round of the playoffs Tuesday.
After Raychel Clark netted in the third minute for the Mustangs, Cedar Wilkening had back-to-back goals in the fifth and 11th minutes.
Ashley Brown dished out three assists and Ashley Hart scored and assisted.
Goalkeeper Morgan Hansen only needed to make one save to pick up the shutout in goal for Hidden Valley, which outshot Elmira, 27-2.
SUTHERLIN 4, NORTH VALLEY 3, SO — At Sutherlin, North Valley led 3-1 at halftime of the 4A play-in game, but Sutherlin tied it 3-3 at end of regulation and won it in a shootout.
Venessa D'Arpino scored the Knights' first three goals, then was lost in the second half to an ankle injury.
After a scoreless overtime, Sutherlin won the shootout, 4-1.
Kerissa D'Arpino was the lone player for North Valley (5-9) to make her shootout penalty kick.