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BOYS SOCCER: Shift pays off as South sweeps North

Expecting a hard-fought, low-scoring kind of day much like the first time it played its crosstown rival, South Medford shifted its tactics to accommodate the rivalry game against North Medford Saturday.

The Panthers then went out and saw their game plan work out as well as expected at Hoffbuhr Field.

Felix Valenzuela and Camilo Rios scored on each side of halftime and South’s shift to a five-man defense paid dividends, as the Panthers grinded out a 2-0 Southwest Conference win over the Black Tornado for a season sweep.

“We capitalized on the plan today,” South Medford head coach Claudio Villa said. “The boys played really well, but our back line did a really good job, especially our three center backs — Andre Ramirez, Fabian Becerra and Andrew Operman. We switched to a back five, and they had a fantastic job holding the tight center position of our center backs. They were the heart and the soul of the team today, and they did what was asked of them.”

The two teams met for the first time this season on Oct. 5, with South (8-4-1, 5-3-1 SWC) recording a 1-0 win over North (4-7-2, 2-5-2).

Saturday’s second meeting was the same kind of tight game.

The Panthers scored what proved to be the game-winning goal two minutes before halftime. Valenzuela, a sophomore, unleashed a shot from 30 yards out between a pair of Black Tornado defenders and into the top-right corner of the North goal.

South doubled its lead in the 64th minute. James Montaillier sent in a free kick to Rios, who was at the top of the 18-yard box. Rios controlled the ball and delivered a low shot into the corner to make it 2-0.

“The second half was just a battle and not a lot of opportunities were created,” Villa said.

Both teams finish up the regular season on their home fields Tuesday, with North hosting Sheldon (2-11, 1-8) and South facing SWC champion South Eugene (11-2, 8-1).

ASHLAND 4, SPRINGFIELD 3: At Ashland, senior Davidson Graham scored two goals and assisted on another and ninth-ranked Ashland clinched a second-place finish in the Midwestern League.

With the win over Springfield (8-4-1, 5-3 MWL) and an Eagle Point (5-4, 5-2) loss to league champion Willamette (13-1, 8-0), Ashland (8-4-1, 6-2) was able to break free of the three-team cluster behind the Wolverines entering the day.

Springfield took the early lead on a goal from Jacobo Contreras Benitez, but Ashland responded to tie the game at 1-all when Lucas Poareo Davidson set up Etani di Properzio. Graham then gave the Grizzlies the lead 11 minutes before halftime when he stole the ball in midfield and delivered a low shot past the keeper.

Graham got his second midway through the second half, then set up Mario Jacobson a minute later to give the Grizzlies a 4-1 lead.

Ashland keeper Mina Scheppmann finished with five saves.

WILLAMETTE 2, EAGLE POINT 0: At Eugene, Eagle Point held an advantage in possession and scoring opportunities in the second half but was unable to convert in a Midwestern League top-10 clash.

Edgar Lopez Ramirez had a free kick hit the crossbar and Alejandro Redondo served up two headers that just went wide in the second half for the 10th-ranked Eagles (5-4, 5-2 MWL).

Moses Angel had a goal line clearance on defense to prevent another goal by No. 2 Willamette (13-1, 8-0), which got goals in the 15th minute from Hector Fandino and 36th minute from Ariel Carlos De Dios Cruz.

CRATER 2, THURSTON 0: At Springfield, Cooper Hopkins scored a pair of first-half goals and Crater overcame tough field conditions in its regular-season finale.

Hopkins put Crater (3-8, 3-5 MWL) in front 25 minutes in when he successfully converted a penalty kick. He doubled the Comets’ lead 32 seconds before halftime, taking a long pass from Parker Allen and looping a shot from the left wing over the Thurston keeper.

Crater central defenders Braiden Tester and Carson Le Bel had strong games at the back, while goalkeeper Diego Estrada made three key saves and commanded his box well on crosses by Thurston (1-9-2, 0-5-2).

BROOKINGS-HARBOR 8, ST. MARY’S 0: At Brookings, Far West League champion St. Mary’s was held scoreless for the second straight game in falling to 6-5 overall with the nonleague loss to Brookings-Harbor (10-1).