Last week, the Cottage Grove boys soccer team kicked off its season with two major victories. Retired teacher and Air Force veteran Vern Stewart has been coaching for the Lions since 1996, and like many coaches this school year, Stewart is just grateful that guidance changed in time for his team to be able to compete.
“What a year!” said Stewart. “Now we can at least have somewhat of a season. We usually have numbers in the 30s, and we have a junior varsity team as well as a varsity team. This year we have 28 young men signed up. If all goes well, that will mean two teams, [which is] not as many players as previous years.”
Though COVID-19 has affected sign-up rates for all sports this season, Stewart’s team is as competitive as ever. In last Tuesday’s game (March 2), the Lions soundly defeated Elmira 5-1.
Elmira scored its only goal in the first 10 minutes of the game.
After that, Cottage Grove was unstoppable.
“[Sophomore] Aldo Rea had a hat trick with the first goal within five minutes of Elmira’s goal,” said Stewart. “Then, [senior] Hector Serratos scored off of a corner, so [the score at] half time was 2-1.”
After the half, the Lions proved to be even more relentless. According to Stewart, “We dominated the second half with two more goals from Aldo Rea and a goal from [junior] Chase Williams.”
On Thursday (March 4), the boys carried the fire from their first win into their home game against Junction City, caging the Tigers with an 8-0 shutout.
“We opened the score five minutes in,” said Stewart, “and scored the second one five minutes later.” [Senior] Evan Snauer scored both [goals].”
Williams scored the next goal, with the fourth coming from Rea, bringing the score to 4-0 by the half.
In the second half, junior Jaden Cameron dominated the field, scoring all of the team’s remain-ing four goals. “Jaden is my playmaker,” said Stewart. “[He] distributes the ball excellently with grace and finesse — but can score from anywhere with either foot.”
After a killer first week, the Lions played at Marist on Tuesday (after press deadlines) and will host Marshfield tonight at 6 p.m.
As with all sporting events this season, no spectators are allowed to attend the game.
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