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Forest Grove stuns South Medford in sudden death

The second-seeded South Medford girls soccer team gave itself plenty of chances Saturday to win what turned into a double-overtime, penalty shootout match against 31st-seeded Forest Grove.

But the underdog Vikings snuffed the Panthers every time in the Class 6A first-round playoff contest and triumphed, 1-0.

South recorded 15 shots on goal to Forest Grove’s eight during regulation, and the Panthers looked in control for most of the match.

“But when you leave it to penalty kicks to solve the game then ... it’s 50-50. It’s either going in or it’s not,” said South Medford fourth-year coach Chris Hollewijn.

Each team made four of their first five penalty kicks.

With the deadlock unresolved, it went to sudden death. Panther senior defender Natalie Davis’ shot sailed high and off the crossbar, and Forest Grove freshman forward Abigail Aguirre netted her attempt.

“The girls have nothing to hang their heads about, they’ve had a really good season,” said Hollewijn. “Forest Grove played the way that they felt like they needed to. They had a couple good players that could do some stuff on offense, but they were very defensive trying to keep us at bay.”

Forest Grove goalie junior Mayra Pantoja-Palominos tallied seven saves, perhaps the best one coming in the 66th minute by swatting away a hard header from Panther senior forward Erin Riley. Riley’s shot from about 10 feet in front of the goal was set up by a perfectly timed pass off the foot of junior forward Montana Logue.

Logue had her own chances, taking four shots on goal. She went wide once and found the hands of Pantoja-Palominos three other times.

“I thought we did enough in the game to get goals, but sometimes you kick it to the goalie all day and that’s unfortunately the way it goes,” said Hollewijn. “It’s tough and I thought we’d be able to beat her with something. It was honestly one of those things where I felt like it was a matter of time until it was going to happen.”

During the first half of the 20-minute overtime, South Medford senior forward Brittany Jensen missed a chance at a breakaway goal as a group of ball-hungry Forest Grove players caught her in front of the goal as she tried to out-maneuver Pantoja-Palominos.

Pantoja-Palominos capped off the first 10-minute period with a diving save on a shot by South Medford junior forward Renae Nisbet as time expired and the Panthers didn’t take a shot on goal during the second session.

Shooting third during the shootout, Panther junior forward Haylie Durant had her penalty kick blocked, allowing Forest Grove to take the lead, but South Medford junior goalie McKenzie Knapp kept the Panthers alive for one more attempt by deflecting Forest Grove’s fifth attempt to the crossbar.

“We didn’t do enough during the game, thought we had enough, but we didn’t get the goal that we needed, or multiple of them, we left it up to chance with the penalties and that’s what happens,” Hollewijn said. “Soccer is a brutal game like that. You can do a lot of things right, but if you don’t kick it into the net then it’s either going to be 0-0 or a loss.”

The Southwest Conference-champion Panthers finished the season at 11-3.

Forest Grove improved to 9-7.

Reach freelance reporter Sam Wheeler at samuelcwheeler@gmail.com.

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South Medford goalkeeper McKenzie Knapp goes for a save during the shootout on the Panthers' field. MAIL TRIBUNE / JAMIE LUSCH
South Medford's Renae Nisbet, left, collides with Forest Grove's Sydney Sullivan in the seond half at South Medford. MAIL TRIBUNE / JAMIE LUSCH