South rallies by North
North Medford got the start it wanted but the finish went to a resilient South Medford girls soccer team during Southwest Conference play Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
The Black Tornado opened a 1-0 advantage in the 10th minute off a goal from senior Haley Janky but the Panthers responded with a pair of unanswered goals thereafter to claim a 2-1 triumph in the cross-town rivalry.
South Medford freshman Whitney Winans scored on a header following a corner kick by sophomore Courtney Herick in the 20th minute and freshman Madelyn Pineda converted a penalty kick in the 54th minute to secure the comeback.
“It was absolutely good resilience shown by the girls,” said South Medford head coach Chris Hollewijn. “This is probably one of the most mentally tough teams that I’ve coached and they showed that again tonight.”
Both teams moved to 4-1 in SWC play and remain tied for first with Sheldon at 12 points apiece. South Medford improved to 7-2 overall and North Medford moved to 6-2-1, and neither coach wanted to make too much of Tuesday’s outcome.
“We’ll get back at it tomorrow and figure out a way to move forward,” said North Medford head coach Jeff Thomas. “We’re more concerned about what happens at the end of the season than this. The community loves the North-South rivalry and it’s good for the community but ultimately our goal is to get to the (state) quarterfinals.”
The second half of the SWC slate for both teams begins next Tuesday.
“The fact is, North is looking at their next game and we’re looking at our next game now,” said Hollewijn. “We can’t sit and dwell on anything. I’m really proud of the girls; I thought it was a really competitive game. North did some good stuff and we did some good stuff. It probably had some good entertainment value with a little bit of everything in it but, at the end of the day, I’m really happy for our girls. It was a good result to pick up.”
With a good crowd on hand, Janky gave the Black Tornado fans something to cheer about early on when she took in a nice through ball from senior Haylie Durant near the top of the box, dribbled to around the 6-yard line and put the ball in the net past South senior goalie McKenzie Kapp for a 1-0 advantage.
South Medford’s answer came 10 minutes later when Herick lofted a corner kick into the box and Winans made her way to the ball and directed a crisp header to the bottom right of the goal past North freshman goalie Brinley O’Neill.
“I’ve watched North play and they like corner kicks and set pieces and do a good job of getting on the end of them,” said Hollewijn. “We’ve been working on that stuff as well and it was nice to get a good result off of it. It doesn’t always happen that way.”
“Whitney did a good job and peeled off the side of whoever was watching her and had to duck down a little bit to get to it,” he added, “but she put some power on it to get it to the corner.”
After the teams returned from intermission tied at 1-all, Winans again played a pivotal role as she set up in the box for a crossing pass and was fouled in the back by a center back for North Medford to set up a penalty kick in the 54th minute.
“It was a hard play by the center back to go up and win the ball and the ref called it over the back,” said Thomas. “It’s a tough call but I wouldn’t discourage our players to play that way. We thought it was a clean play but they chose to give them the foul and that’s the way soccer goes sometimes.”
Pineda stepped up and calmly sent her penalty kick past junior goalkeeper Melissa Tonkin, who split duties with O’Neill, for a 2-1 Panthers advantage.
“Anytime a ball’s in the air a lot of it is about who has the better position as a result to win the ball,” said Hollewijn. “(Winans) had really good position and her feet under her and she got plowed into through her back. That would be called anywhere on the field, it just happened to be called in the box. To me if that happens in the middle of the field to either team, we’re all popping off the bench saying it was a foul.”
With 26 minutes still to play, North Medford had its chances to create an equalizer but was turned away each time by the Panthers to snap the Black Tornado’s four-game winning streak.
Thomas said he certainly wasn’t discouraged by the way his team played, it just came down to a few fateful moments here and there in deciding the competitive clash.
“Their opportunities weren’t tons,” he said, “it’s just that we didn’t defend the set piece very well and that will cost you. We just have to learn from it and move on.”
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry