Crook County scores late goal to take 2-1 victory over La Pine

The Crook County Cowgirls gave up a quick early goal, then battled back to take a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the La Pine Hawks in Tuesday afternoon non-league soccer LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Cierra Tyger blows past a La Pine Hawk defender on the way to the goal. Tyger scored on the play, helping the Cowgirls to a 2-1 victory over the Hawks.

“I’m glad that we kind of fought to the last,” said Crook County head coach Rich Abrams. “The last time we played them, we were up 3-0 and we kind of folded at the end. They came back and scored two goals and were able to put us under pressure the rest of the game. This time we were able to stay steady all the way through.”

La Pine didn’t waste any time getting on the board. The Hawks intercepted a Crook County pass, then pushed the ball quickly up the field to an open Natalie Gruen, who snuck the ball past Crook County goalkeeper Megan Highsmith to give La Pine a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the contest.

The Cowgirls answered less than a minute later on a goal by Cierra Tyger — her first as a varsity player.

“It made me really happy,” Tyger said of her goal. “We played a lot better than in previous games and it was very exciting to win.”

After the two quick goals, the game turned into a defensive struggle. Neither team was able to score another first-half goal. by: LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Kelsie Smith fights for the ball with a La Pine forward. Smith helped anchor a Cowgirl defense which gave up just one goal in the game.The second half started with both teams making occasional runs into the other team’s end of the field.

As play went on, the Cowgirls began to take control of the contest. Starting about 10 minutes into the second half, Crook County began to put more and more pressure on the La Pine defense. The Cowgirls blasted shot after shot toward the Hawk goal, but were ultimately unable to connect.

The closest they came to scoring was a Reveca Ambriz shot, which ricocheted of the upper corner of the left-hand post about 15 minutes into the second half. The Cowgirls continued to pressure the Hawks, and finally broke through with the game-winning goal nearly 30 minutes into the half. Ambriz made a short run down the left side with the ball, then centered the ball where a waiting Maddie Lindburg was able to score the game-winner from straight in front of the goal.

Once they were ahead, the Cowgirls began playing more conservatively, dropping more players to the defensive end of the field.

La Pine made several late runs down the right side of the field, but each time, the Crook County defense was up to the challenge. The Hawks were unable to mount a serious challenge, and the Cowgirls escaped with the 2-1 victory.

“I feel it was a really good step, which gets us closer to our goal, which is making the playoffs,” said Crook County defender Kelsie Smith. “I think we really connect as friends, so that translates onto the field when we play.”

With the win, the Cowgirls are 2-1 on the season, while the Hawks fell to 0-3-1.

Crook County opened the Intermountain Hybrid season on Thursday against Mountain View. League action continues Tuesday, Sept. 24 when the Cowgirls go on the road to take on the Bend Lava Bears in a 4:30 p.m. match.

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