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Huskies end season with win over Sutherlin, loss to CG


October 25, 2017

JARRETT OWEN swipes the ball from Photo by Sean C. Morgan/ Sutherlin’s Aldo Alcantar while Eric Blanchard closes in.

The Huskies lost a valiant effort to keep their season alive in boys soccer, ending their hopes for post-season play 3-1 at Cottage Grove Thursday.

They had a long shot to make it into the playoffs, and the first step was beating Sutherlin 1-0 on Oct. 17 at home.

Cottage Grove, ranked sixth in the state, scored its first goal near the end of a back-and-forth first half.

“It was close,” said Coach Eric Stutzer. “I thought we played well. We stepped up and played the way we should be.”

Passing was strong, he said, and his players were aggressive. They had good penetration, and their shots were more on target, less over the top. Stutzer said he would have liked to have seen more shots.

The Huskies were taking too long to shoot the ball, he said. Had they made quicker shots, they likely would have had a couple more goals.

To deal with Cottage Grove’s bigger players, Stutzer said he moved Eric Blanchard from forward to midfield. The Huskies also added Soma Wantanabe, a Japanese exchange student from Josai University High School, to its roster for the first time.

Wantanabe is quick and has good control, Stutzer said. He penetrated the defense well, but he’s small. The larger Lions knocked him around quite a bit in a “very physical” game.

Cottage Grove scored its first goal right before the half, Stutzer said.

After halftime, neither team could score a goal before Noah Webb, who hadn’t been expected to play in the game, was injured and taken off the field by ambulance about 15 minutes into the half.

That’s the kind of thing that can make a team fold, Stutzer said, but the Huskies didn’t.

After a 15-minute delay, Levi Hernandez quickly scored a goal on a corner kick to tie the Lions 1-1.

The Lions popped a shot into the net about 10 minutes later, Stutzer said, and the game was back and forth.

“I think they thought they were going to roll over us, and we didn’t roll over,” Stutzer said. The Huskies had good penetration and a lot of good looks in the second. Cottage Grove’s keeper came up with a big save when Rawlins Lupoli shot a penalty kick. The keeper just barely got a hand on it and deflected the shot over the top of the goal.

The Lions scored their final goal with about two minutes left in the game.

“They never quit,” Stutzer said of his team. “That was the big thing.”

The Huskies played well as a team, he said. They communicated well.

“I’m just very, very proud of them that they played as well as they did,” Stutzer said. The game was tighter than the score showed. “We proved, the teams in the top echelon, we can compete with these teams.”

Cottage Grove’s keeper has allowed just six goals this season, Stutzer said, and the Huskies scored two of them.

“To even put one in on that team was impressive,” he said.

Earlier in the week, the Huskies won a tight game against Sutherlin, a team that has been winless in the Sky-Em.

“We dominated the game,” Stutzer said. The Huskies were on offense 90 to 95 percent of the time. “We just could not get a shot to drop.”

Four or five shots went off a post, Stutzer said. The goalie had a couple of great saves, and a couple of shots barely missed.

Sustherlin “parked the bus,” stacking defenders in the box.

“We did a very good job getting inside, spreading them out and getting the shots off,” he said.

About 20 minutes into the second half, one finally hit the net when Stewart Curtis shot across his body and buried it in the back corner.

“I felt like we played very well defensively that game,” Stutzer said. In the final 10 minutes, though, the defense fell apart as the Huskies became more goal-hungry. It almost cost them a couple of goals.

Sweet Home goalkeeper Rowland Lupoli had a couple of saves, Stutzer said, and Stewart and Rawlins Lupoli played “very, very well.”

Webb and Noah Dinsfriend, neither of whom were expected to play in the game due to injuries, were key in foiling attacks from Sutherlin’s talented wings, Stutzer said. “Without them, we would’ve been in trouble.”

The season has been marred by injuries and lack of depth most of the way, Stutzer said. Players on the field weren’t always operating at 100 percent.

He saw the ambulance on the field more this year than any of the past 15-plus years, Stutzer said. It was on the field twice for Webb, and Zech Brown went to the emergency room during a game, something that’s tough for the kids to watch.

“It’s good for kids to learn to overcome adversity,” Stutzer said. At times, they did a good job handling the adversity, and at other times it got the best of the Huskies.

The Huskies didn’t handle Junction City well, Stutzer said, but “we played some decent soccer down the stretch.”

The Huskies finish the soccer season 2-5-3, in fifth place in the Sky-Em League. Sutherlin, 0-9-1, finished in sixth; Cottage Grove, 9-0-1, first; Sisters, 6-3-1, second; Elmira, 4-3-3, third; and Junction City, 3-4-3, fourth.


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