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BOYS SOCCER: Saucedo serves up South win over North

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South Medford junior Eloy Saucedo broke a 1-all tie early in the second half with a goal and the Panthers’ boys soccer team was able to keep North Medford at bay thereafter to earn a 2-1 Southwest Conference victory Tuesday night at Spiegelberg Stadium.

“We’re coming together,” said South Medford head coach Claudio Villa. “We started kind of slow at the beginning of the season but now that we’ve found a rhythm and the fitness that we want, we can make things happen.”

South Medford (4-2-1, 2-1-1 SWC) had opened the scoring with a 27-yard free kick by Alex Rodriguez that was redirected by Saucedo past Black Tornado goalkeeper Fernando Ortiz. Saucedo had made a close run on Rodriguez’s left-footed effort on a crisp setup that left Ortiz little chance at defending.

North Medford (3-4, 2-3) was able to knot the score at 1-all later in the first half when Koby Ibarra lofted a nice crossing pass over a defender and to Erick Nunez, who settled quickly and drilled a low shot past goalie Silvano Pineda for the equalizer.

“I thought we played really well in the first half,” said North Medford head coach Michael Belzberg. “I think we got kind of an unlucky goal conceded off the free kick but I thought the boys showed a lot of heart and played really good in connecting passes and creating good chances and got ourselves back into it by halftime at 1-1.”

Less than a minute after intermission, however, Saucedo was able to run onto a long through ball from Steven Calvillo that put him behind the defense and after a couple dribbles sent a shot inside the left corner post against a closing Ortiz.

It was the first two goals of the fall for Saucedo, one of the Panthers’ captains.

“Eloy is a very talented player and very crafty,” said Villa. “He had not scored all season and I think he was very frustrated with himself in each game until tonight. I told my assistant coach, Matt Soper, it couldn’t have come at a better time for him to score a goal and gain some of that confidence back. So far he’s made everything happen for us except put the ball into the net.”

North Medford had almost an entire half of play to counter, but just could not find the end result it was looking for against a South defense that steadily turned the Black Tornado away.

“We never really seemed to settle down and play well again,” said Belzberg after his team’s defensive lapse. “We put in some good chances but it was never enough or consistent enough to really get it done.”

“In the last 10 minutes we pulled a defender and tried to create something and unfortunately we didn’t get anything,” he added, “but the boys played really hard. I was proud of how they played.”

WEST ALBANY 1, EAGLE POINT 0: At Eagle Point, scoreless up until the 70th minute, Eagle Point lost possession and West Albany scored on a breakaway to get the edge in nonleague play at Eagles Stadium.

Time of possession was a 50-50 battle between both squads as the backline of Andre Ramirez, Moses Angel, Kevin Lopez and Adam Cortez for the Eagles (2-2) were superb throughout the contest

Junior goalkeeper Trent Silani compiled five saves against West Albany (3-1-1).

Photo by Denise Baratta. South Medford junior Eloy Saucedo, left, races downfield past Landon Mercer of North Medford to score the second goal for South Medford.
Photo by Denise Baratta. North Medford's Erick Nunez leaps for a header as South Medford's Felix Valenzuela (9) and Alex Rodriguez (16) look on Tuesday at Spiegelberg Stadium.
Photo by Denise Baratta. North Medford and South Medford players tangle near the goal as the Panthers defend against a Black Tornado corner kick late in the second half.
Photo by Denise Baratta. South Medford goalie Silvano Pineda and defender Andrew Opperman, (13), take a tumble blocking a score attempt by North midfielder Matt Donovan, (11).
Photo by Denise Baratta. South Medford's Alexie Reyes, (7), and Greg Hildebrand, (5), of North medford, race for possession of the ball.
Photo by Denise Baratta. Forwards Prince Thompson, (4), of North, and Felix Valenzuela, (9), of South, vie for the ball.
Photo by Denise Baratta. Eloy Saucedo, (10), reacts as South scores its first goal early in the first half, Tuesday against North Medford.
Photo by Denise Baratta. South's Alex Rodriguez, (16), takes a shot at the goal near the end of the second half, Tuesday against North Medford.
Photo by Denise Baratta. South Medford midfielder Steven Calvillo, (11), tries to catch North Medford forward Prince Thompson, (4).
Photo by Denise Baratta. North Medford midfielder Koby Ibarra beats Danny Centeno, (12), to the ball.