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Panthers pounce on Wilson in playoff opener

The South Medford girls soccer team got off to an ideal start and never looked back Friday in defeating visiting Wilson 2-0 in the first round the 6A playoffs.

Whitney Winans set up Ula Chamberlin for a goal just 40 seconds into the match, giving the No. 16 seed Panthers (9-3-3) a lead they successfully protected against the 17th-seeded Trojans (8-5-2), who finished second in the highly competitive Portland Interscholastic League and are known for their stingy defense and standout keeper.

“We definitely expected them to be strong,” South coach Chris Hollewijn said. “We knew if we got chances, we had to put them away.”

“The opening goal, getting it that early was great,” he added. “That kind of set us on our way.”

South went up 2-0 in the 37th minute when Morgan Burke won a header to set up Toni Coleman, who split a pair of defenders and beat the keeper one-on-one.

The Panthers made an in-game formation adjustment during the first half to stifle Wilson’s midfield-heavy attack, but the Trojans responded with their own strategic adjustments to create a handful of solid scoring chances in the second half. However, South keeper Skylar Farmer came up with several big saves to help preserve the lead.

“They’re used to playing at a high level without any breaks,” Hollewijn said of Wilson. “It was a really competitive match at a high level. It was fun.”

South advances to the second round of the tournament, in which it plays Tuesday against the winner of today’s first-round match in Portland between No. 32 seed North Medford (5-8-1) and the top-seeded Jesuit Crusaders (14-0), ranked No. 2 in the nation in the most recent USA TODAY/United Soccer Coaches Super 25 Fall Girls National Poll.

Boys Soccer

SOUTH ALBANY 6, EAGLE POINT 1: At Albany, Eagle Point allowed a goal in the third minute, the first of three goals let in early in the first half, and faced an insurmountable uphill climb in losing a 5A play-in match against host South Albany.

Ulises Rodriguez, a senior, scored on a free kick from about 25 yards out in the 76th minute to prevent the Eagles (4-9-1) from being shut out. Rodriguez bent the ball around the defensive wall and caught the keeper flat-footed as the ball found the back of the net.

The Rebels (11-3-1) led 3-0 at halftime and also scored the first three goals of the second of the half.

Elvis Cisneros, a freshman, was a standout at the center defense position for Eagle Point.