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Huskies keep themselves in running for boys soccer playoffs

 

October 10, 2017

GOALIE ROWLAND LUPOLI goes high to make a save against Tillamook on a corner kick. Photos by Sean C. Morgan

Sweet Home is hanging onto a chance at post-season play in boys soccer.

In non-league action, the Huskies beat Tillamook 1-0 at home Saturday after tying Elmira Thursday, Oct. 5.

Against Elmira, “we played extremely well,” said Coach Eric Stutzer. “We just really struggled to put the ball in. Their keeper stepped up when he needed to step up.”

The Huskies didn’t have a lot of quality looks at goal Thursday, just two or three, Stutzer said. They tended to hold onto the ball a little too long when they were in scoring position.

“Our intensity level was better,” he said. “Our team play was better. The kids were finally working together.”

The Huskies spent about three-fourths of the game on offense and they out-shot Elmira 3-1.

“Rowland (Lupoli) was top- notch,” Stutzer said of Sweet Home’s keeper. “He had a couple monster saves that kept us alive.”

Late in the game, he had a double save where he blocked a goal, Stutzer said. It came back at him, and he blocked it again.

“On Thurday, our defense was just on top of it,” he said. The Huskies didn’t have any lapses, and they played well through both halves.

It was about the best the Huskies have played all season, he said.

Saturday, neither team found the net in the first half.

Eric Blanchard put the ball in after a collision with Tillamook’s goalie. Blanchard broke away about halfway through the second half. Zak Fox ran with him as Tillamook’s goalie came out of the box. Blanchard flipped over the top of the keeper. He and Fox moved past the goalie, and Blanchard scored the goal.

“Tillamook had a quality team,” Stutzer said. “They had some guys that were quality players.”

Sweet Home handled it well through about three-quarters of the game, taking five to six quality shots that just missed or hit the keeper’s fingertips, Stutzer said.

The last 10 to 15 minutes were scary as play moved and stayed on the Huskies’ end of the field, Stutzer said.

Lupoli had a big save late in the game when he jumped to deflect a high shot over the goal.

“He definitely saved both of these games for us,” Stutzer said.

Overall, the week’s games were a contrast with earlier games where the Huskies had been playing a more individualistic game, Stutzer said. They played as a team last week.

With the win, “we stay alive in league play,” Stutzer said. “The win against Tillamook brings us up the rankings.”

That may make a fourth-place appearance in playoffs possible, he said. “IF we play the rest of the season the way we did against Elmira, we’re going to be fine.”

Elmira, third place with a 2-2-2 record, is one win ahead of the Huskies, 1-2-3, right now, Stutzer said. The Huskies are ahead of Junction City, 1-3-2 and Sutherlin, 0-5-1.

Cottage Grove is in first place and undefeated. Sisters, 4-2, is in second place.

Sutherlin tied Junction City last week, helping the Huskies, Stutzer said. “We’re still going to have to win some games here.”

The Huskies were scheduled to travel to Junction City Tuesday. They’ll travel to Sisters Thursday and host Sutherlin at 7 p.m. Oct. 17. They finish the regular season at Cottage Grove on Oct. 19.

ERIC BLANCHARD, left, flips over Tillamook’s goalie prior to scoring a goal as Zak Fox moves in.

Stutzer believes his team can make it even against Cottage Grove.

“I think we can compete with Cottage Grove,” he said. In speed and style, Tillamook is similar to Cottage Grove, although Cottage Grove players are larger.

The Huskies are nearly at 100 percent, with everyone on the field all game for the first time this year when they played Elmira, Stutzer said. Some players are still banged up a little, but everyone’s in pretty good shape now.

That was Noah Webb’s first full game back from an injury, and he, along with Noah Dinsfriend, both made a big difference against Elmira. Dinsfriend, who is doubling with cross-country, was unavailable against Tillamook but would have made a big difference, Stuzer said.

 
 

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