After finding success in the first week of league play, the Cottage Grove girls’ soccer team dropped a pair of games in week two to go from the top of the table to a three way tie for second place.
Last Tuesday at Junction City, it was the Tigers (2-7-1, 2-2 Sky-Em) catching the Lions (4-5-1, 2-2 Sky-Em) by surprise in a 2-0 victory.
“We didn’t play with energy. When you don’t pick up your level of play when you’re playing a lesser opponent you lower everything and end of losing. It’s just very frustrating,” said Cottage Grove head coach Reed Levings.
Coming into the game, the Tigers had one win on the season, a victory over a winless Marshfield side, and had been shut out five times. But for the second time all season, they were able to score multiple times in a game.
The Tigers got on the scoreboard after Cottage Grove was called for a foul, which the Lions protested, in the fifth minute of the game. Junction City’s Bailey Mullins took the free kick that was placed just outside the box on the left side and found the upper right corner for a goal.
With the wind at their back, the opening 30 minutes of the game belonged to Junction City. The home side owned possession and finished with six shots and three corners in the first half. Cottage Grove had one shot and no corners in the half.
“The wind was a huge factor in this game. We were able to get the jump on them because we had the wind at our back. And so that was part of it,” said Junction City head coach Chris Bolton. “Part of it also is that we can’t lose. I mean, if we lose one more game we’re probably done as far as playoffs go...As poorly as all of the teams in our league have done besides Marist, we’re fighting for that (second) spot.”
The Lions were unable to string passes together to create meaningful possession but were aided by their backline that was able to limit Junction City in the run of play. In the second half, Cottage Grove began to find a rhythm and were able to push their front line up but were unable to score.
“I think the biggest thing is mentally being prepared when you step on the field. Having the energy when you step onto the field. It was completely different when we went on in the first half compared to halftime when it was like we’ve got to go,” said Levings.
The Tigers struck again in the 76th minute. After a Cottage Grove player fell, or was pushed, (depending on which sideline you asked) the Tigers countered and Ellie Brackett scored.
“They had one shot on goal which was a free kick, which was a bogus call. And same with offsides right here. That’s the thing, refs should know you can’t extend your arm and push somebody but it doesn’t matter how bad a ref is, you’ve still got to come to play,” said Levings.
On Thursday, Cottage Grove lost 8-1 at home to Marist to move to 2-2 in league play. The Spartans sit on the top of the Sky-Em standings at 4-0 while the Lions, Tigers and Elmira are all tied. Marshfield os 0-4.