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Panthers fall to Beaverton in thrilling season opener

BEAVERTON — The South Medford girls soccer team’s season opener had the vibes of a playoff matchup, and although Beaverton came out on top with a late go-ahead goal Friday, it was an encouraging start for the Panthers.

The Beavers, who begin the season ranked eighth in the OSAA coaches poll, pulled off a 2-1 victory with a goal in the 73rd minute from Macy Deckert, but the challenge was a welcome one so early in the campaign for South Medford coach Dave Potter and his Panthers.

“This had the look of a state tournament match,” said Potter. “It was played at a speed that was hard to imagine (for a season opener). It was a challenging outing for us, but a lot of positives came out of it and there’s a lot of things we need to work on. It’s early in the season and we’re not as sharp as we’re going to be in a couple weeks from now. The girls came out to play and made it competitive all the way through.”

Two minutes after Isabelle Cruz’s throw-in ricocheted off the heads of two Beaverton defenders and bounced into the net to tie the score 1-all for the Panthers (0-1), Deckert scored the go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute.

Both teams came out of the gates with a flurry, but Deckert’s goal in the fourth minute put Beaverton (2-0) in control early.

Beaverton finished with an 11-7 edge in shots on goal.

South Medford’s Eve Lynx made five saves, including one diving save from point-blank range. Cruz, Drew Hampson and Bella Bottero stood out with their play for the Panthers.