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North girls suffer SWC setback against Sheldon

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The North Medford girls soccer team has found itself playing from behind in a few recent Southwest Conference games, but the deficits haven’t discouraged the Black Tornado’s effort.

Such was the case Saturday at Bowerman Field when North battled back from a 1-0 deficit to net a second-half equalizer, only to see Sheldon answer minutes later for what proved to be the deciding goal in a 2-1 setback for the Tornado.

North Medford (4-5, 1-4 SWC) was within striking distance on a number of occasions, though unable to put through the final touch to equalize after Sheldon scored its second goal.

“I think we just struggled once we got up to our 18, we just struggled to finish the ball,” North Medford head coach Morgan Barry said. “There were a couple times that we had the easy pass into goal, but we just couldn’t get it there. This could’ve been a complete different game if we put a couple balls into the back of the net.”

Sheldon built a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute when the Irish capitalized on a corner kick taken by Audrey Bivens that was finished on a header by freshman Alexis Cockerill-Gonzales.

More than 30 scoreless minutes followed into the second half, with both teams having their share of chances but unable to finish in front of the opponent’s goal.

Then in the 50th minute, North freshman Olivia Boger grabbed possession of a ball that skipped out to the left wing and fired a high-arching shot past Sheldon’s goalkeeper inside the far post.

The Black Tornado goal came after a strange sequence of events. After a North throw-in, as both teams fought for possession along the sideline, an assistant referee raised the flag as if to indicate the ball had gone out of bounds. But the head official allowed play to continue while Sheldon and North continued to battle for the ball in the center of the field before it was flipped out to Boger for the score.

“My girls, we’ve really been working on not getting down on ourselves when a ball goes in the back of the net,” Barry said. “Just changing the aspect of grabbing that ball and getting started, the girls fought hard until the very end so I’m proud of them for that, and that’s why we did end up getting that goal, because they didn’t give up and kept encouraging each other.”

The tie was ultimately short-lived, however, as Cockerill-Gonzales scored her second goal eight minutes later in what proved to be the clincher for Sheldon (3-6, 3-2). Cockerill-Gonzales chased after a through ball and fired a shot that North goalkeeper Bianca Pazqueda initially saved before the forward regrouped to put the ball into the net on a rebound.

North had a quality shot on goal from senior Kira Pyka in the 61st minute, but Sheldon goalkeeper Sydney Quinney was there for the save.

Since opening its SWC schedule Sept. 21 with a 2-1 win over Grants Pass, the Black Tornado is still in search of its second at the halfway point. The second half begins Tuesday with a road game against that same Cavers team.

“I’m proud of the girls with the way they came out,” Barry said. “The way they came out with intensity, it just stayed the whole game, it never came down, and sometimes it can happen in some of our games. But this game it didn’t. I’m just proud of them for fighting until the very end.”

Reach reporter Will Denner at 541-776-4479 or wdenner@rosebudmedia.com.

North's Olivia Boger (19) and Sheldon's Jillian Cockman (7) vie for possession of the ball during Saturday's game. (Denise Baratta / for the Mail Tribune)
North's Kira Pyka (1) and Bela Flores (13) of Sheldon fight for control of a high ball. (Denise Baratta / for the Mail Tribune)
Olivia Boger (19) takes a header over Sheldon defender Jillian Cockman (7). (Denise Baratta / for the Mail Tribune)
Sheldon's Gwen Apker (23) chases North's Alisa Wisdom (2) for the ball. (Denise Baratta / for the Mail Tribune)
North's Jordan Alftine (11) goes in for a header on a high ball Saturday against Sheldon. (Denise Baratta / for the Mail Tribune)