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Crook County builds a big lead, then withstands a furious Redmond rally to take a 6-5 victory in the final game of the season

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Crook County's Kevin Arroyo plays the ball away from Redmond goalkeeper Colin Pearson. Arroyo eventually scored on the play for one of his five goals in the Cowboys' 6-5 win over the Panthers Thursday afternoon in Prineville. The Crook County Cowboys closed out their season in style Thursday afternoon with a come from behind home victory over the Redmond Panthers.

"I'm very happy," Crook County head coach Ramone Castañeda said of the win."It showed that even though we were up and then they came back we fought to the end. So that's the heart that we have. It's very emotional because we are losing three seniors."

Playing at home on senior night, the Cowboys jumped out to a big early lead, only to see Redmond come back and take the lead early in the second half.

The same thing happened earlier in the year against the Panthers, but that time Redmond went on to take an easy win.

This time the Cowboys battled back, scoring a pair of late goals to take a 6-5 victory over the Panthers.

The three Cowboy seniors were all instrumental in the win.

Defensive stopper Carter Williams was instrumental in stopping the Panther offense, while Midfielders Elias Villagomez and Alexis Robles Ortiz were both involved in the Cowboy offensive attack.

"To end the season with a win, for me, is a really big thing," Villagomez said. "I know we worked our butts off in the field and the same at practice and everything."

Early in the match, it looked like it was going to be a Crook County blowout victory.

The Cowboys took control of the ball and pushed the action the entire half, as they rolled out to a 3-0 lead.

Sophomore Kevin Arroyo opened the scoring seven minutes into the match. Then, with 16 minutes remaining in the first half, junior Kevin Sanchez scored on a pass from Arroyo.

Five minutes later, Arroyo scored again, this time on an assist from Villagomez, who made a perfect pass to set Arroyo up.

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Elias Villagomez plays a ball during the Cowboys' 6-5 win over the Redmond Panthers on Thursday. Villagomez, who is one of three seniors on the Cowboy roster, had three assists in the match."It is my job to send those ball to Kevin and try to assist on those passes," Villagomez said. "I just try with all I've got to get the ball to people who are in position to score."

Redmond came out on fire in the second half, with Owen Byrnes scoring a goal just two minutes into the half on a penalty shot.

Byrnes scored again less than a minute later to make the score 3-1.

He scored his third goal with 26:50 remaining in the contest to tie the score. Just 20 seconds later, Redmond took the lead as Byrnes scored again.

"I feel like we got kind of down," Villagomez said. "Every time we start a second half, that's how we start off. We started off slow and they started fast. You could tell right away that we weren't defending or moving the ball well. We literally gave them the lead."

Arroyo agreed.

"I was really worried, because this happened to us over there," he said. "We were beating them and then we got angry and we let that get to us and they just started scoring and we just started fighting. But this time we had hope. It was our seniors last game and we love them and we wanted to at least make it memorable for them. We wanted to finish out strong."

And that is exactly what the Cowboys did.

Arroyo tied the match on an assist from Villagomez just minutes after Redmond took the lead.

However, the Panthers weren't done. Byrnes scored his fifth goal of the match with 16:14 remaining to give the Panthers a 5-4 lead.

Then came one of the key plays of the match. Villagomez played a corner kick that went high across the face of the goal. Redmond's goalkeeper Colin Pearson lept high in the air for the ball. Pearson was bumped by Arroyo and landed awkwardly. Although he kept the ball, he was unable to continue playing.

The Cowboys took advantage, with Arroyo scoring two more goals in the match, with assists from Villagomez and Jesse Sanchez as the Cowboys came from behind to take the win.

"It meant a lot because we didn't start the season very well and this gave us team hope for next year," Arroyo said.

"This means everything," Villagomez added. "I just want to say thank you to my coach, my family, my soccer team and everybody who supports our Cowboy team."

With the win, the Cowboys closed out the season with a 2-13 overall record and a 1-9 league mark, while Redmond closed out their season with a 1-12-1 overall record and went 1-9 in league.

League co-champions Hood River Valley and Ridgeview, along with third-place The Dalles, will all represent the Intermountain Conference in the state playoffs, which start Wednesday. Of the three teams, only Hood River Valley has a home match.


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