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PREP ROUNDUP: St. Mary’s surges into quarterfinals

About the best thing the St. Mary’s girls soccer team was able to do in the first half of Tuesday’s Class 3A/2A/1A state playoff opener was to not let the score get out of hand against Amity/Western Christian.

The second half, however, was chock full of special moments as the seventh-seeded Crusaders surged to a 5-1 victory over the 10th-seeded visitors at U.S. Cellular Community Park.

St. Mary’s (7-6) advances to face No. 2 seed Catlin Gabel in Saturday’s quarterfinals. The Eagles beat Lakeview 8-0 on Tuesday.

Sophomore Samantha Gallardo helped spark the turnaround for St. Mary’s (7-6), which trailed only 1-0 at intermission despite a handful of breakdowns. Gallardo scored an equalizing goal in the 47th minute and that seemed to rejuvenate her team, which went on to two more goals in the ensuing seven minutes of play.

“Sam’s a very gifted player and it’s nice when we can get her more involved in the plays,” said St. Mary’s coach Martin Nelson. “It’s nice as a coach when I see her with the ball around 25 (yards) out because I know she has the foot for it.”

Gallardo scored her initial goal on a nice left-footed shot toward the far post following a cross from Kate Stillwell in the 47th minute.

One minute later, Lili Castillo picked up an assist when she won a 50-50 ball and put the ball on the capable feet of senior Ryker Rothfus, who was able to dissect the defense for a go-ahead goal.

“It was one of the those moments as a coach when you’re thinking, ‘Well, it’s about time,’” Nelson said with a laugh of the consecutive quick strikes.

Rothfus made it 3-1 in the 54th minute following a nice through ball setup from Gallardo, who ultimately finished with two goals and two assists in the comeback.

“Her vision’s very good,” added Nelson of Gallardo. “She really is a true soccer player. She’s constantly playing and it shows with her vision on the field.”

Gallardo put away a penalty kick in the 68th minute and had an assist on a corner kick that was deposited into the net by Whitney West in the 71st minute for the final margin of victory.

Amity/Western Christian (10-5-1) opened the scoring in the 27th minute on a successful penalty kick after the Crusaders were tabbed with a handball in the box following a missed clearance.

“We got lucky with that,” Nelson said of trailing only 1-0 at the break. “We had a couple bad giveaways and silly mistakes on our part that fortunately didn’t cost us too much. We talked at the end of the game how we can’t have that happen Saturday against Catlin Gabel.”

LAKE OSWEGO 4, SOUTH MEDFORD 0: At Lake Oswego, second-seeded Lake Oswego put South Medford on its heels early and the Panthers were unable to counter in the second round of the 6A state playoffs.

South Medford (9-4-2), the Southwest Conference co-champions and No. 18 seed, opened things up in the second half with more players forward but couldn’t convert on several scoring chances.

The Panthers, who finished with six corner kicks, saw Brooke Fairbanks, Bella Bottero and Isabelle Cruz each create opportunities, but the speedy Lakers did well to find a way to challenge any shot on goal.

In the opening 10 minutes, the unbeaten Lakers (14-0-2) managed one goal by Rylee Winn in their five shots on frame and four corner kicks. Lake Oswego made it 2-0 with about three minutes left in the first half on a goal by Anjali Cherian that was assisted by Alix Shipton.

A goal midway through the second half by Lauren DeGroot, assisted by Julia Joseph, and another with 12 1/2 minutes remaining by Megan Ko supplied the final margin for the Lakers.

Drew Hampson and Alexandra Maukonen were stalwarts in the middle of the defense for South, forcing LO to try and attack from the outside.


SUTHERLIN 3, CASCADE CHRISTIAN 1: At Sutherlin, Cascade Christian sophomore Maddi Carter had 14 kills and three aces but a fourth meeting with Sutherlin did not go the Challengers’ way as the Bulldogs executed well in the Class 3A state quarterfinals.

In a battle of Far West League co-champions, eighth-seeded Sutherlin prevailed 25-19, 17-25, 25-17, 25-15.

Maddie Todd added seven kills, Poppy Freeman had four aces and Molly Griffin contributed 29 assists for the No. 16 Challengers (12-11), while Ellie Harrington had 21 digs.

Sutherlin (20-5), which won 3-of-4 this season against Cascade, saw senior middle blocker Mallory Turner shine with at least 17 kills to lead her team.

DAMASCUS CHRISTIAN 3, ROGUE VALLEY ADVENTIST 2: At Damascus, Rogue Valley Adventist suffered only its second true loss of the season — and first against an Oregon school — at the hands of third-seeded Damascus Christian in a five-set thriller in the Class 1A state quarterfinals.

Host Damascus Christian (22-5) won 25-21, 22-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-9 to deny the sixth-seeded Red Tail Hawks (21-3). RVA previously had to forfeit a season-opening win over Days Creek due to confusion on an eligibility issue and lost 3-0 to Walla Walla Valley Academy of Washington.

St. Mary's senior Ryker Rothfus, shown earlier this season against Cascade Christian, scored two goals to help propel the Crusaders in Tuesday's state playoff opener. Andy Atkinson/Mail Tribune