Cowgirls and Panthers play to a tie on senior night
The Crook County Cowgirls and Redmond Panthers played to a 3-3 tie three weeks ago in Redmond.
Last Thursday, both teams finished their season with another tie, 1-1.
With both teams mired near the bottom of the Intermountain Conference girls soccer standings, that meant that all that was on the line Thursday night was bragging rights as the two teams squared off again in the final match of the year for both teams.
The Cowgirls, who have been decimated by injuries this season, chose to honor two of their injured seniors by allowing them to start the match despite their injuries.
Tansy Clark took the field in a walking cast, while Gracie Kasberger took the field in a knee brace.
Clark booted the ball to Redmond to start play. The Panthers then kicked the ball out of bounds, allowing the Cowgirls to substitute and get Clark and Kasberger out of the match.
As the two seniors left the field, the crowd applauded, with possibly the largest cheer of the night.
What followed was a match that Abrams described as lots of motion but not much precision.
"This game was really important to us, because we tied last time," Crook County defender Marlen Ceja-Prado said. "They are our biggest rivals, I think because of our records and then naturally because we live so close and we play them all the time."
Playing at home, on senior night, the Cowgirls forced the action for much of the early portion of the match.
In the game's 13th minute, Crook County forward Faith Wagner had a breakaway chance, but her shot was stopped by Redmond goalkeeper Kelsie Reinemer.
Following the missed opportunity, the Cowgirls continued to force the action, with Redmond not getting a single shot in the game's first 25 minutes.
Then, with less than 14 minutes remaining in the first half, the Cowgirls had a brief defensive lapse, and the Panthers capitalized as Lauryn Duryee scored on a rebound, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
Crook County responded late in the half as Emma Bales scored a game-tying goal on a blast from 18 meters out on the right side of the field.
"I told her to shoot next time she got in that position, and she did, and it went in," said Crook County head coach Rich Abrams. "Hopefully, she learned a good lesson."
The Cowgirls had one final scoring opportunity late in the half, but Teagan Freeman's shot was easily stopped by Reinemer.
Halftime went long as the Cowgirls celebrated senior night, with an underclassman speaking in honor of each senior.
With the delay, Abrams was afraid that the Cowgirls would have a letdown in the second half, but he didn't need to worry as Crook County once again controlled the time of possession in the second half.
"I think that it made us play a little more aggressive and harder because we had something to really fight for," Wagner said. "It was the last half of our last game, so we kept going."
Both teams had scoring opportunities in the second half, but neither was able to capitalize.
By the time the game finally ended, still tied 1-1, it was so dark that it was difficult to see either the ball or players' numbers, but both teams continued to fight to the final whistle.
"We didn't lose, and we kept up a fight, so I'm really proud of all the seniors especially," Ceja-Prado said. "It would have meant a lot to us to get a win because it's our last game at Crook County, so it was very important to us, but I think we did really good."
Abrams was also disappointed that the match ended in a tie.
"It was a good game," he said. "Both teams played hard. We created the chances. We just didn't put them away."
With the tie, the Cowgirls finish the season in sixth place in the IMC with a 2-11-2 overall record and a 0-8-2 league record.
Meanwhile, the Panthers finished in fifth place with a 2-9-3 overall mark and a 1-6-3 league record.
"It would have been nice to get a win," Wagner said. "But I feel like they are a great team, and a tie was a great way to end the season. I love that this team keeps on going and we don't stop. We just keep on fighting 'til the end."
Despite the injuries and the poor record, Crook County did make progress during the season.
The team scored 22 goals on the year, more than they have scored in the last five years combined.
Although it has not yet been confirmed, team members believe that they set a season scoring record.
"We could have done so much better without the injuries, but we still pushed through and did our best," Ceja-Prado said.
Wagner added that she hopes that the underclassmen continue to get better.
"I love the girls," she said. "I hope they keep on going and keep on doing better."
The league champion Ridgeview Ravens, Hood River Valley and The Dalles/Dufur all advance to post-season play from the IMC.
Ridgeview will host Silverton, while The Dalles/Dufur is at No. 1 ranked North Eugene, and Hood River Valley will play at No. 2 ranked Willamette.
All three games are scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 31.