Lions soccer continues push for playoffs

The Cottage Grove boys’ soccer team, who appears to be in a battle with Marshfield for second place in the Sky-Em League, needed to take care of business against the last-place North Bend Bulldogs in order to maintain their positioning in the league. The Lions did just that by winning 6-0 last Thursday, Oct.13.

Just underway in the match, the Lions were able to get on the board when senior Charlie Kent converted a penalty kick into a score for the Lions. This was despite the protest from North Bend Coach Dustin Hood, after some dispute on whether there was a handball violation inside the penalty box. Nonetheless, the Lions led 1-0 with 34:00 left in the first half.

Cottage Grove went into halftime up 2-0 after sophomore Armando Legorreta was able to avoid a slide tackle from North Bend’s goalie and scored.

Already in good shape to start the second half, senior Aldo Rea put Cottage Grove up 3-0 and then it appeared he might have got another score a few minutes later, but the ball did not have enough force under it to roll in. However, sophomore Hayes Valley was able to kick it in for the Lions, who went up 4-0. Then a minute late Rea scored his second goal for Cottage Grove.

The Lions scored three goals in the span of under four minutes, putting the Lions up 5-0 with 28:49 left in the match.

The Lions were able to bring in an assortment of substitutions early in the second half and maintained their lead throughout, even building on it when senior Wyatt Pepiot found an open field for a goal after excellent passing and ball movement from his teammates, giving the Lions a 6-0 lead.

“I knew that we had the game in control when we had our subs coming in and be able to contribute to the team. Instead of them coming in when we are either ahead too much or behind. We want to make sure we cleaned up our guys on the bench to make sure they were contributing,” said Lions Coach Vern Stewart.

The Lions traveled to Junction City on Tuesday to take on the Tigers, following The Sentinel’s press time. It was a rematch of when Cottage Grove played Junction City on Sept. 29, when they won 8-0.

“We have a lot of work to do. We are losing games that we shouldn’t lose. At times we don’t know which team of ours is going to show up,” Stewart said. “It’s one of those games that you know you should win, so I was more into what we were doing on the field [against North Bend]. I wanted to see the movement, we talked about the inside and outside, and we were also talking about finishing.”

The Lions’ victory over North Bend comes after a 1-1 tie with Marshfield that helped keep the Pirates in control of second place in the Sky-Em League.

“Tonight, we finished. We had the same opportunities at Marshfield the other night, and we just didn’t finish. That’s one of the things we have to clean up as we go further in. We need to win out to now finish second,” Stewart said.

The top eight teams in the OSAA rankings get a bye following the regular season. Cottage Grove appears to be heading for the play-in round that will be held at the end of this month. The Lions have a small chance of hosting a play-in game if they finish second in the Sky-Em League, but if they finish in third they will be traveling. Much will depend how they do against Marist today, Oct. 20, in their final regular season game at Marist and how Marshfield performs in the remainder of their games.