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PREP SOCCER: North boys stun South Eugene in rare feat

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The North Medford boys soccer program accomplished something Wednesday night head coach Michael Belzberg hadn’t seen in 10 years with the team — the Black Tornado beat South Eugene, the juggernaut of the Southwest Conference for several years running.

Thanks to a goal from senior Ulysses Gomez five minutes into the second half, as well as strong performances from sophomore goalkeeper Fernando Ortiz and the rest of the defense, the Black Tornado were able to preserve their lead and claim a 1-0 over the Axe.

Prior to Wednesday, South Eugene (6-2, 2-1 SWC) had not been shut out in six previous games this season and scored a combined 12 goals in its first two conference games.

“It was a big night for the whole program,” said Belzberg, who’s been North’s head coach since 2012.

The Black Tornado typically feature its two senior captains, William Gillock and Gomez, at the top of the attack, but the matchup with South Eugene called for a different strategy.

Knowing the team’s offensive chances were likely to be few and far between, North opted to employ a more defensive formation — and it worked.

The breakthrough goal came as Gomez tried to catch up to a ball from midfield that a South Eugene defender appeared to have possession of, but the ball was mishandled, allowing Gomez to steal, dribble around the goalkeeper and fire a left-footed shot into the net.

Even as the Axe held a heavy advantage in possession, the Black Tornado defense kept the visitors out of the net and Ortiz had an estimated nine saves.

“Tonight he was perfect, he was awesome, unbelievably good. Couldn’t ask for more from him,” Belzberg said. “It was just a total team effort and everybody stepped up.”

North (3-3-1, 1-1-1 SWC) came into the game in sixth place of the SWC standings, while South Eugene still sits atop the conference despite the loss. With the win, the Black Tornado jumped up to fifth and will have an opportunity to climb higher with a meeting against crosstown rival South Medford on Tuesday evening.

ROGUE VALLEY ADVENTIST 5, ILLINOIS VALLEY 1: At Cave Junction, Rogue Valley Adventist scored five unanswered goals, including three in the second half, to remain unbeaten on the season.

Illinois Valley (0-2) scored in the 21st minute to take a 1-0 lead, but Rogue Valley Adventist responded with two goals before halftime — one from Isaac Cheshire, assisted by Alex Wigger, and one from Ian Cheshire off an assist from Bryce Perry.

Ian Cheshire went on to finish off a hat trick on the team’s fifth and final goal, assisted by Perry, who also chipped in a goal in addition to two assists for the Red Tail Hawks (3-0). The team had an estimated 20 shots on goal.

It was also Rogue Valley Adventist’s first game of the season that the entire roster was available.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Ulysses Gomez controls the ball away from South Eugene's Gavin Williamson during the 1st half.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Koby Ibarra, center, passes the ball down field while Ulysses Gomez, right, looks on during the 1st half.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Daniel Ortiz and South Eugene's Whit Schatz battle for the ball in the air during the 1st half.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth Medford's Colson Rumrey changes directions of the ball off his head during the 1st half.