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Ravens break open a close match with three second-half goals as they take a 5-0 win over Cowboys

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Crook County's Mitch Warren challenges Ridgeview's Jonathan Orozco during the Cowboy loss to the Ravens Tuesday night. Orozco scored one goal as Ridgeview took a 5-0 shutout victory, clinching the Intermountain Conference title. Crook County closed out their season with a road match against Redmond on Thursday. The Crook County Cowboys knew going in that it was going to be a tough soccer match.

Playing at home, on senior night, the Cowboys were hosting league-leading and ninth-ranked Ridgeview, who had earlier defeated Crook County 8-0.

Despite long odds, the Cowboys hung in the match most of the way before falling 5-0 to the Ravens in a match that wrapped up the Intermountain Conference championship for Ridgeview.

"Once we stepped on the field, we all felt the energy," senior defender Moses Freauff said following the match. "It was the last home game for the seniors, and we had to give it all we had. Even before the game started, I knew that we were going to play good."

Ridgeview forced the action early in the match but were unable to penetrate a tough Crook County defense.

Then, as the teams neared the midpoint of the first half, the Cowboys seized momentum.

Crook County had several scoring opportunities, including a couple of fouls on Ridgeview that gave the Cowboys free kicks in scoring range.

However, the Cowboys were unable to finish. After an especially good scoring opportunity by Crook County, Ridgeview counterattacked, quickly taking the ball down the field, and Cade O'Neill blasted a shot past Crook County goalkeeper Abel Nunez into the back of the goal.

O'Neill scored again three minutes later as the Ravens pushed the score to 2-0.

"We kept our heads up high, and all of our spirits were up," senior defender Mitchell Bennett said. "We played our best, you could see by the score and we kept it 2-0 for the first half. We kept fighting to the last whistle."

The Ravens had several more scoring opportunities in the half, but each time, Nunez was up to the challenge, making save after save.

The match stayed close into the second half, before Jonathan Orozco took a centering pass from O'Neill and pushed a shot into the back of the goal 10 minutes into the second half. Five minutes later, O'Neill scored his third goal of the game as Ridgeview put the game out of reach.

Following that goal, the Cowboys changed their lineup, with Freauff moving to midfield and Nunez coming out of the goal to play defense.

That move gave the Cowboys several additional opportunities to score.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Jesse Sanchez and Ridgeview's Marques Montanez battle for the ball during the second half of Ridgeview's victory onver the Cowboys on Tuesday. The match guaranteed the Ravens first place in the Intermountain Conference, while the Cowboys are battling for fifth with Redmond, which they played on Thursday.However, Ridgeview's goalkeeper was up to the challenge, turning the Cowboys away on each of their scoring opportunities.

The Ravens finally scored their final goal with 14 minutes remaining in the match as Christian Kim scored off of a corner kick.

Still, the Cowboys were pleased with the improvement that they have shown since an 11-0 beat down from Hood River Valley just a week earlier.

"I felt like the effort put forth through our entire team was outstanding," senior defender Brogyn Miller-Sampson said. "Ridgeview is a tough team, and we went out there and didn't let them get into our heads. I'm proud of my team because of that."

Miller-Sampson added that it was disappointing that Crook County couldn't find a way to avoid the shutout, but that he was still pleased with the effort.

"You just keep your heads up, and you always look for that next opportunity," he said. "I feel like this was a great confidence builder, just to see our improvement from the last time that we played them."

With the win, the Ravens locked up the conference championship. With one match still to play, Ridgeview has improved to 7-0-2 in conference play and 9-2-2 overall.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys closed out their season on Thursday with a match at Redmond.

Heading into Thursday's match, Crook County had a 2-10-1 overall record and were 1-7-1 in league play, while Redmond is 3-8-1 overall and is also 1-7-1 in league play.

The winner of Thursday's match will finish no worse than fifth in the conference, while the loser will finish at the bottom of the standings.

"I think so far this is the best that we have played all year," Bennett said. "We definitely put forth the effort and showed everybody what we've got and what we are capable of. If we can play like this again, we can take Redmond."

Freauff agreed.

"I really enjoyed playing soccer," he said. "This was my last home game, and it was the best we've played so far this year. If we can do that again, we can take Redmond."

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