Showdown with La Salle next Monday

by: CORY MIMMS - Gladstone junior Riley Webster fights off a defender as she goes on the attack in last weeks game with Molalla. The Gladiators routed the Indians 5-0. The Gladiators will face perhaps their stiffest test of the season next Monday, when they play host to the league-leading La Salle Falcons.MOLALLA — Intent on keeping their league title hopes alive, the Gladstone Gladiators were all business in a girls soccer match contested here last week, as they upended Molalla 5-0.

The win put the defending state champion Gladiators at 4-1-1 in the Tri-Valley Conference (7-1-2 overall) with league regular season matches remaining with Madras (0-4-2), La Salle (6-0-0), Estacada (1-3-2) and North Marion (0-4-2).

“We need some help from Molalla,” said Gladstone coach Steve Thomas. “But next Monday’s match with La Salle could be for the league title. Even if we don’t win league, we need to beat La Salle for our RPI ranking and state playoff seeding.”

Gladstone and La Salle were ranked seventh and ninth respectively in the rankings heading into play this week.

Last week’s game with Molalla was much like the first game between the two teams, except for the score. The Gladiators had dominated the play in the earlier encounter, which ended in a 1-1 tie.

The Gladiators had the best of the play again in last week’s game, but they scored more goals because they were more selective in their shots.

“When you look at the stats for the two games, they are very similar,” Thomas said. “But for this game we picked our spots. Our shot selection was much better. We had a lot of scoring opportunities last time, but we shot right at their keeper....

“[This time] we had tremendous ball movement and as a result we scored five goals and they were by five different people.... We are passing the ball and making runs when we don’t have the ball, giving us more options.”

The Gladiators were up 3-0 at halftime and they increased their advantage to 4-0 and put the game on ice when junior Chelsea Entrambasaguas put the ball in the net just two minutes into the second half.

Senior forward Cheyenne Stubblefield scored her first goal of the season. Juniors Hannah Kent and Riley Webster and senior Megan White also scored goals for Gladstone.

Kent and senior Kendall Schumaker both had two assists, while White assisted on the fifth tally.

The Gladiators took 16 shots and 12 of them were on-frame. Gladstone keeper Molly Webster had to make only three saves; the Gladiators had four corner kicks, while the Indians had no corners.

“We talked about taking quality shots and taking fewer shots,” Thomas said. “Last time we outshot them 21-5, but the shots were not quality shots.”

Thomas singled out Schumaker, Kent and junior defender Mikaela Simac for standout performances in the 5-0 win.

“Kendall was at outside mid and she was all over the place,” Thomas said. “She played great defense, passed the ball, made nice crosses and worked really hard. It was her best game of the season so far.

“Hannah made her runs and made very good passes. A goal and two assists. It was her best game of the year.

“Mikaela Simac was tremendous on defense. She shut down people when they tried to make runs — taking the ball away or kicking it out of bounds. She did whatever she needed to do to stop them. In my mind she’s the best defender in the league, by far....

“Our defense has played great since our last game with La Salle. When La Salle scored two goals, it woke us up. We haven’t given up a goal since then and we’ve only allowed four goals this season.”

Next Monday’s rematch with La Salle is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, at Gladstone.

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