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PREP SOCCER: Panthers fall flat against Willamette

EUGENE — South Medford’s boys soccer team made the trip north to Willamette but didn’t get much else in return as the Panthers suffered a shocking 6-0 loss in Southwest Conference play Saturday.

Junior forward Ariel de Dios Cruz scored the first four goals for the Wolverines — three in the opening 25 minutes — and South Medford was never able to counter despite entering the match with a little momentum following hard-fought wins over North Medford and Eagle Point.

“The boys just mentally and physically didn’t get off the bus,” said Panthers head coach Claudio Villa, whose team dropped to 4-3-1 overall and 2-2-1 in SWC play. “We never were able to wake up before the game started and just didn’t compete.”

Willamette (5-2, 3-2) used a penalty kick in the first minute by de Dios Cruz to set the tone, and he later found a loose ball in the box that was not cleared for a goal in the 15th and tallied another PK in the 25th to make it 3-0.

“In the second half we finally woke up and actually had four or five scoring opportunities in the box,” said Villa, “it’s just their goalkeeper came up huge with some saves.”

Forced into pressing the issue a little with more players upfield, the Panthers left themselves vulnerable on the back end and the Wolverines scored three times in the final 11 minutes to put the game away. In the 69th minute, de Dios Cruz finished at close range following a cross and the Wolverines also got goals from Papa Yansane (73rd) and Andres Sanvincente (79th).

South Medford freshman Omar Serrano provided a bright spot off the bench as a creative midfielder.

“He probably had the best performance of his season,” said Villa. “He was able to recover the ball a lot and create for us. He was the engine of our team today as a freshman and really stepped it up.”

WEST ALBANY 2, ASHLAND 0: At Albany, Ashland created a handful of good scoring opportunities, with Mario Jacobson and Cash Cota at the forefront, but the Grizzlies (2-2-1) were unable to convert in the nonleague loss.

West Albany (4-1-1) scored on a penalty kick in the 16th minute, then tacked on an insurance goal in the 70th following a direct kick that ricocheted off Ashland goalkeeper Mateo Moore.


ASHLAND 1, HENLEY 0: At Ashland, senior Brianna Gibbs was finally able to convert for Ashland around the 57-minute mark after steady pressure and goalkeeper Esme Barnes was able to make that hold up behind a stout defense for the nonleague victory.

Gibbs joined Iniana Hammond in recording five shots on goal as Ashland (5-0) outshot Henley 19-4 overall — 11-3 in shots on frame.

Lena Caballero Uhtoff earned the assist on Gibbs’ go-ahead goal.

Barnes registered three saves to keep a clean sheet against Henley (2-3-1).