Junction City hosted the Cottage Grove Lions for a Sky-Em conference showdown which, ahead of kickoff, could not look more even. Both schools came into the evening with a 2-2-1 record and standing back to back in the OSAA rankings at 16 and 17.
After Cottage Grove lost their first two games, they had since been building some positive momentum before the game with Junction City going 2-0-1 in the Lions’ last three games, drawing a huge tie with top four ranked Henley.
Meanwhile, Junction City was going the wrong direction, dropping their last two fixtures and giving up 13 combined goals.
Cottage Grove came out in their 4-2-3-1 attacking formation and immediately put pressure on the Junction City defense. The Lions were able to put up two goals in the first five minutes of the half.
Juan Gonzalez opened up the goal-scoring after rebounding a mishandle from the Junction City goalie to put in the first score. Aldo Rea also scored off a deflection from Junction City giving Rea an easy score and making the Cottage Grove lead to 2-0 at 35 minutes in the first half.
The Lions continued their attack scoring again at 24 minutes left in the first half at the feet of Jayden Cameron making it 3-0 CG.
Junction City would finally move the ball into the Cottage Grove’s third of the field, but would not score and lose the ball out of bounds near mid-field.
This allowed Jayden Cameron to throw in a quick outlet pass to his teammate Aldo Rea who dribbled the ball upfield and hit a long strike past the Junction City goalie who found himself out of position to surrender a score.
Shortly after the score from Rea, Cameron saw an easy chance for a score and converted to increase the big lead for Cottage Grove to 5-0 with 13 minutes left in the half. The onslaught continued as Cottage Grove was able to get some younger players into the game.
Cameron made a long throw into the six-yard box to set up freshman Hayes Valley for the score pushing the lead to 6-0 Lions.
Just before the half ended, Junction City was moving the ball around in the Cottage Grove 18-yard box and the Lions committed a foul, awarding the Tigers a penalty kick with a minute to go in the first half. JC Junior Court Knabe was able to execute the free-kick and get Junction City on the board as the first half came to a close making the score 6-1 in favor of Cottage Grove.
The Lions came into the second half unrelenting as they drew a foul on the Tigers just outside Junction City’s 18-yard box in the first few minutes.
Cameron added another score from about 20 yards out, expanding the lead for CG to 7-1. The Tigers tried to make another push on offense but were stalled by the Lion’s defense and goalkeeper Ty Kishen, who then quickly converted defense into offense by moving the ball back to the Junction City side of the field.
After the ball went out of bounds off Junction City, Cameron made another big throw-in to Sylas Williams for the short score, growing the lead to 8-1 Lions as they crept up on the mercy rule.
In Oregon, the mercy rule applies when a team grows the scoring margin to eight after the first half, which then ends the game.
Juan Gonzalez ended the game with his second score of the game giving Cottage Grove a huge 9-1 victory over conference foe Junction City.
“What’s important is the kind of goals that we’re scoring. It’s a team effort spread around the different team guys. The whole idea is to make sure that everybody is moving from the defense, through the mid, and then scoring,” said Head Coach Vern Stewart. “The biggest concern when you get into the league is to play and make sure that you keep starters healthy. And then the quality of play has to stay equal when you have your subs coming in. That’s how you become competitive all the way.”
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