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PREP SOCCER: Munoz, St. Mary’s steamroll Cougars

St. Mary’s boys soccer coach Eisa Tiaatoto saw a lot of promise in his team during a 1-0 season-opening loss to perennial power Catlin Gabel last week.

On Thursday, the Crusaders made good on that promise in dominant fashion, scoring seven times in the first half en route to an 8-0 win over Illinois Valley in Class 3A/2A/1A District 5 play.

St. Mary’s freshman Jose Munoz put on a show with four goals — one coming off a goalkeeper deflection — and two assists, getting the action started in the first minute with a setup of a close-range goal by Chris Kranenburg.

Kranenburg didn’t exactly land his backflip on the post-goal celebration but that was seemingly the only slip-up for the Crusaders at Lithia & Driveway Fields.

“We’re not perfect yet,” said Tiaatoto. “Sometimes we try to do too much and I’m trying to teach them to be comfortable with pace and to control tempo of the game and pass the ball around and don’t run. If something causes you to run, then you can run, but don’t run for no reason.”

Leandro Cronk scored on a penalty kick following a handball in the box in the 12th minute, then Munoz tallied goals in the 15th and 16th minutes to create more than enough cushion. After his deflected goal, Munoz earned another assist on a goal by Cronk and then wrapped up the first-half scoring in the 31st minute off an assist by Timofii Sybirtsev.

“He’s challenging himself all the time,” Tiaatoto said of Munoz.

Davis Jones came out from goalkeeper to a striker position in the second half and closed the game by virtue of the mercy rule 10 minutes into the second half with a goal.

SOUTH MEDFORD 3, ASHLAND 0: At Ashland, South Medford junior Kyle Denn scored twice and played a role in a third goal as the Panthers shut down Ashland in a nonleague match.

Denn scored in the 10th minute off an assist by Felix Valenzuela following an indirect kick at the top of the box to open the scoring for South (2-1).

In the 58th minute, Denn sent a nice through ball to Danny Centeno, who saw his initial shot stopped by Ashland’s goalkeeper but Alexie Reyes swooped in to bury the loose ball into the net.

With six minutes to play, Eloy Saucedo served up a long pass to Denn for the final goal.

Girls

ASHLAND 2, RIDGEVIEW 0: At Redmond, Ashland senior Iniana Hammond had a hand in two goals and Esme Barnes came up with three stellar saves among her 11 overall to keep a clean sheet in the season opener for the Grizzlies.

In the last minute of the first half, Hammond sent a through ball to striker Lena Uhtoff, who beat a couple defenders and fired a shot toward the far post that was pushed over the line on a sprinting effort by Ivy Clason just before it got to the post.

Hammond collected a pass from Jane Cruce and teed up a shot for another goal five minutes into the second half for Ashland, which did a good job defensively of holding back Ridgeview.

HIDDEN VALLEY 3, CRATER 1: At Murphy, Hidden Valley scored twice in the first six minutes of play to take control and tacked on a final goal early in the second half to keep Crater at bay.

Down 2-0, the Comets (1-3-1) were finally able to cut into the Hidden Valley stronghold with a goal by freshman Britney Galleher inside the final two minutes of the first half. Ella Heppner sent a crossing pass from the right side that Galleher was able to finish with her left foot into the right-side corner.

The Mustangs improved to 2-0.

PHOENIX 4, CASCADE CHRISTIAN 0: At Phoenix, sophomore Anahi Villa dished out two assists and scored one goal to lead a strong effort by host Phoenix in the nonleague match.

Morgan James scored in the fifth minute off a pass from Villa, who again got the assist on a goal in the 35th by Katie Christensen to help the Pirates (1-2) build a 2-0 halftime advantage.

Sofi Rodriguez scored in the 60th minute and Villa tallied her goal in the 72nd to close out the scoring for Phoenix, which got a shutout in goal by Jayden Vos.

Katharina Gray was steady in creating a couple scoring chances for Cascade Christian (1-1).

NORTH VALLEY 2, ST. MARY’S 1: Host St. Mary’s struck quickly with a goal in the second minute by Lucy Maxwell but North Valley was able to tie the match in the seventh minute and then net the eventual game-clincher five minutes into the second half at L&D Fields.

The Crusaders (0-2, 0-1 Dist. 4) were rewarded for aggressive play early, with Katherine Mejia pushing a bouncing ball in front of the goal and Maxwell getting the decisive foot on a group-effort goal.

Katelynn Balsiger supplied about six solid saves before giving way to Gabriella Cooper with 20 minutes to play.

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