Lions soccer teams maul Junction City Tigers

The Cottage Grove Lions soccer teams shared a pair of home games last Thursday, Sept, 29, when they squared off with the Junction City Tigers. The girls’ team, who played first, was seeking their first league win of the season. Cottage Grove beat Stayton on Sept. 8, but have struggled since then. Coming off a 3-0 loss on the road at North Bend, the Lady Lions took on a Tigers team that had been dealing with struggles of their own, holding a 1-6-1 record before coming to Cottage Grove.

At 28 minutes left in the first half, Cottage Grove senior Emma Walker missed a good look at the net, but just a few minutes later it was freshman Brielle Engle charging towards the goal with an open path in front of her, putting Cottage Grove up 1-0 after the score.

Junction City would respond, scoring on a penalty kick to tie the game, but the Tigers struggled against a Lions defensive attack that didn’t allow the Tigers a lot of looks at shot attempts. The Lions would continue to get downfield and missed a few opportunities, but were unable to get on the board again in the first half, making the game 1-1 at halftime.

“Trust yourself,” Lions Coach Kalli Schwehr told her team at halftime. “You trusted yourselves in the first half; do it again.”

The Lions would come out far more aggressive in the second half. After sophomore Edie Gibson Becker was fouled, Walker came up to attempt a penalty kick, but missed. She would later redeem herself in a big way, putting the Lions up 2-1 after freshman Emmerson Bickford was fouled and Cottage Grove was awarded another penalty kick opportunity.

The Tigers turned up the intensity after that, but outside of their penalty kick earlier in the evening, they were not able to get on the board. Junction City got another penalty kick attempt with 9:30 remaining in the match, but the Lions goal keeper made a fantastic save, keeping the game at 2-1. The Lions sealed the victory when senior Halle Violette tacked on another Lions goal with 3:06 left to play, allowing Cottage Grove to earn their second victory of the season 3-1.

The Lions boys’ team was up next. With the Sky-Em League sitting in a tight position, the Lions were in second place with a 1-0-1 league record coming into the match. They had an excellent opportunity in front of them to create some separation between them and the Tigers, who sat in fourth place with a 1-2 league record.

The Tigers came out aggressive, getting two shot attempts off within the first minute, but the Lions defense stood strong, not allowing either to fall in.

However, it wouldn’t take Cottage Grove long to set the tone in their own way. With 38 minutes remaining in the first half, Aldo Rea scored Cottage Grove’s first goal of the day, making the score 1-0. That wouldn’t be the last time we heard from Rea.

With about 18:00 left in the first half, the Lions missed two good looks, but it was sophomore Tristyn Burnes who was able to put the Lions up 2-0.

Sophomore Armando Legorreta played a scrappy first half, especially on the defensive end, colliding the Tigers goal keeper on one occasion.

Junction City was on their toes much of the evening, and, to end the first half, Rea scored his second goal of the evening off his head on an assist from an inbounds pass from junior Eli Williams, making the score a 3-0 Lions advantage at the half.

Although it was the start of the second half, things were just getting started for the Cottage Grove boys. Rea took complete control of the match, officially registering a hat trick when he put the Lions up 4-0 by scoring his third goal just a few minutes into the second half. He would miss his next attempt, but he earned himself a haul by scoring his fourth goal with 20:42 still left in the match, making the score a 5-0 Lions advantage.

“I was focused, I didn’t really care about scoring. All I cared about was winning,” Rea said.” I don’t care how many goals I score. We have eleven players, not just one.”

Rea was asked if this was the best game he has ever played; “No, I can play better,” he said.

While Rea had a dominant game, it was many of the other Lions that would continue the onslaught by Cottage Grove. Legorreta continued to have himself a big night, scoring a tough goal from near the sidelines with 9:21 left. Junior Jace Meyer would make the game 7-0 a couple minutes later and sophomore Carter Bengston would end the game when he put the Lions up 8-0, enforcing the mercy rule.

If one team is ahead at halftime by eight or more goals, then the game is over. If the difference in the score is seven or less at half time, we start the second half,” the OSAA rules state.

At the beginning of the week, the Cottage Grove boys’ soccer team was sitting in first place in the Sky-Em League. Both Cottage Grove boys’ and girls’ teams headed up to Eugene to take on the Marist Spartans on Tuesday, following The Sentinels’ press time. Both teams next travel to Marshfield on Tuesday before hosting North Bend next Thursday, Oct. 13.