Raider men look to rebound at home
Early struggles are nothing new for the Southern Oregon men’s soccer team. With a handful of regular starters nursing injuries on the sideline and freshmen taking on central roles, the growing pains being experienced presently were easier to anticipate than usual.
If the Raiders (2-4 overall, 0-1 Cascade Conference) are to summon a turnaround this weekend, they’ll have to earn it with two hot opponents coming to town. In their CCC home openers, they’ll play the Carroll (Mont.) Saints (3-2-1, 2-0) at 3:30 p.m. Friday and the Providence (Mont.) Argos (4-0-1, 2-0) at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on the Raider Stadium turf. Both teams swept their conference-opening weekends against Evergreen (Wash.) and Northwest (Wash.).
Last Week In Review
Dating back to 2015, SOU went 494 minutes without giving up a goal to Oregon Tech but needed one more to avoid Saturday’s setback. In the 109th, Owls forward John Sarna broke a scoreless tie with the golden goal in the first CCC outing for both teams. SOU freshman goalkeeper Liam Kalhagen, making his first collegiate start, only faced three shots on goal prior to the winner and the Raiders had a 12-4 advantage in corner kicks but were shut out for the first time in 13 regular season games.
It was their third loss in four outings overall, while the Owls stayed unbeaten through six.
NAIA Top 25
After starting the season at No. 13 in the coaches’ poll, the Raiders are on the outside of the NAIA Top 25. Rocky Mountain (Mont.) (3-2, 2-0) is the CCC’s lone representative at No. 24 as of Wednesday’s rankings, and Corban (4-0-1, 2-0) is receiving votes. SOU will play both teams on the road this season, with a date at Rocky coming up on Oct. 6.
- Over the previous two seasons, the Raiders went 12-0-1 and gave up just one goal in home conference games, and they didn’t allow any goals in home conference play during 2018. Prior to the loss at Oregon Tech, they’d been unbeaten in 26 consecutive games against CCC competition, including playoffs.
- SOU’s points leaders - freshmen Adrian Villegas (4 goals, 1 assist) and Sam Walker (2 goals, 1 assist), junior Daniel McDevitt (2 goals, 2 assists) and senior Jared Delaney (2 goals, 1 assist) — accounted for six of the team’s 164 points last season.
- Senior Michael Miller, the CCC’s 2018 co-Defensive Player of the Year, has recorded three assists in SOU’s last four games. In his first 60 career appearances, he had one.
- The Raiders have recently been without seniors Gonzalo Garcia, Yan Pessoa de Oliveira and Wyatt Zabinski, and junior Renee Resendez. Those four have combined for 82 starts since the beginning of 2018. Zabinski, a two-time CCC all-star at goalkeeper, has been out since leaving with an injury in the first half of SOU’s loss to Embry-Riddle (Ariz.) on Sept. 7. As a team, the Raiders have a .640 save percentage compared to .849 last year.
The Saints are fresh off of two home wins, 1-0 over Evergreen and 2-1 over Northwest. They were picked fifth in the CCC preseason poll after going 6-6-1 last season and have been sparked by two freshmen: South African Rory Bloy (3 goals) and Argentinian Jeronimo Lago Huerta (3 goals, 1 assist). Their keeper, Kaden Connor, is the reigning CCC Defensive Player of the Week, having allowed four goals and made 21 saves in five appearances. SOU is 4-1-1 in the series and defeated Carroll twice last year, 3-1 to clinch the regular-season title in Helena and 4-0 in the CCC Tournament semifinals.
The Argos are unbeaten this season, having outscored opponents 10-5, and regularly boast one of the most talent-laden rosters in the circuit. George Holloway, a senior forward from England, led them in scoring in 2018 and has already recorded four goals and one assist. Leo Almeida, a junior from Brazil, has added three goals and keeper Hernan Perez has allowed five with 21 saves. SOU is 2-1-1 against the Argos, and the teams played to a scoreless draw last year in Great Falls.