The Sutherlin/Oakland boys’ soccer team is objectively bad at soccer. This is not a hot take or an attempted insult to them but rather a sad reality of soccer in that area. In the last two seasons the team made up of two schools has won one game per season and this year they also have just one win.
Part of the problem stems from not having enough players interested in playing. Despite pairing the two schools together, the team has just 18 players in their soccer program that includes eight freshmen and five sophomores. On the flip side, in their meeting last Thursday in Cottage Grove, the Lions played 22 different players throughout the game.
It was clear that the Lions were the better team as they started scoring, seemingly, at will. Despite the end result of a 9-0 win, the Lions came out slow and not up to their standard.
“It was a very rough start and we need to work on that,” said goalie Zach Stewart. “The beginning there was no talking, no passing, just going because of the previous years. And that’s a bad thing, we just got in our heads and then by the second half we cleaned up our act and our attitude. And we got it done.”
Stewart’s allusion to the past seemed to be on the team’s mind as they assumed they would get the win in this game. The last time Cottage Grove scored more than nine goals in a game was when they defeated Sutherlin/Oakland 10-0 in 2015.
Head coach Vern Stewart, grandfather of goalie Stewart, saw more of the same from his perspective.
“To kind of get them motivated when the opponents might be,” he said before trailing off. “You’ve got to play your own game because you have to have the same kind of game that you like to play.”
Regardless of starts, the Lions were able to turn it on midway through the first half and went to halftime up 5-0. The game became less of a contest and more an exhibit in seeing how fast Lions players Konrad Raum and Kyle Conley were as they were able to speed past the Bulldogs back line. Both players ended the game with three goals each. Kyle Browning added in two and George Cervantes had one.
“It’s kind of tough [against Sutherlin] because you don’t want to run up the score but you’ve got to be able to work your players. It could have been much higher,” said the eldest Stewart. “When you have kids that don’t get to play a lot. How can you tell them not to score? Or play the game they want to play? You got to continue to do that.”
The Lions dictated the pace and play, and if it was not for the goalie play of Sutherlin/Oakland’s Joaquin Vicencio, the score could have been into the high teens.
After the victory, Cottage Grove moved to 3-0 in league play and sit alone in first place. Tomorrow they head to Sweet Home who, as of this print, has not won a game this season.