Fast-start leads Lions to takedown Tigers

Jasper Nichols-Ferguson sends the ball out towards teammate George Cervantes (right) for a goal. (Photo by Zach Silva/CG Sentinel)

Looking to record their first win in league play, the Cottage Grove boys’ soccer team came away with a much-needed win Tuesday night at home against Junction City. Walking away with a 3-0 win, the Lions wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. 

Two minutes into the game Evan Snauer guided the ball low and just inside the left post for a goal from 25-yards out to give Cottage Grove an early advantage.

“We came out so fast and we got the ball right in the middle and Evan put it straight perfect. And for the rest of the game we thought, ‘We got this,’” said senior midfielder Jasper Nichols-Ferguson. “Not to sound cocky but we’ve got this energy going, we have the flow and we’re in it. We’re engaged.”

Cottage Grove dominated the first half but took just one goal to the break. The Lions had plenty of opportunities but were stopped by the goalie or, in one instance, the crossbar. 

“We’re still struggling on some of the finishing and stuff like that but overall it was a good game. The passing and the quickness and the things that we do to our advantage finally came to our fruition,” said Cottage Grove head coach Vern Stewart. “And to be totally honest, I felt the game was going to be ours anyway.”

The Lions were not often challenged but rose to the occasion when they were. In the 29th minute Junction City looked to have a breakaway with a shot at the goal but the play was broken up by a slide tackle from Rodas Rodas-Martin.

“[With our defense] there’s always somebody pressuring, everybody is getting back. We know how to play defense better. Our defensive line is showing it. They’re organized and they’re playing like it,” said Nichols-Ferguson.

Aided by the defense continuing shutting down any Junction City hint of an opportunity, Cottage Grove continued to control the game in the second half.

After a Junction City foul just outside the box, Cottage Grove was able to find the back of the net once again. It was a true team effort as freshmen Jayden Cameron sent the ball in, Nichols-Ferguson got a foot on it towards the goal and George Cervantes beat the goalie in a race for the ball and headed it home.

The Lions struck again in the 67th minute after Cottage Grove’s Lathan Van Wagner played a perfectly placed ball to a sprinting Cory Butts up the left side. Butts took the ball in stride to get past Junction City’s back line and slipped the ball past the goalie to lock in the victory.

“The guys knew that this was kind of a game that we had to win. We’ve been close so many times and finally the defense is coming together and really strong defense. And then we’re finally scoring goals,” said Stewart.

On Thursday the Lions fell 2-0 to Marist. Cottage Grove began the second half of league play yesterday at Marshfield.

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