Crook County High School Cowboys fall to the Madras White Buffalos and Thurston

LON AUSTIN - Eli Oelkers, left, heads the ball during the Cowboys' 3-2 loss to Madras Sept. 2.The Crook County High School boys soccer team dropped a pair of tough matches this past week.

On Thursday, the Cowboy hosted Madras, falling 3-2 to the White Buffalos. On Saturday, the Cowboys were home again, falling to Thurston 6-2.

"I don't think that the scoreboard always reflects accurately how well teams play," Crook County head coach Bryan Housley said following Saturday's match with Thurston. "People can see that in the paper and think, 'Wow, they really struggled.' Well, we had a lot of good stuff going on, but that's the thing about soccer. It can change in a second, and momentum shifted in their favor."

After playing to a scoreless tie nearly the entire first half on Thursday, the Cowboys gave up the first score of the match with under a minute remaining in the first half, on a goal by Yael Carlon.

The two teams played even in the second half, but the Cowboys were unable to overcome the first half deficit. Logan Matthews scored both Crook County goals in the contest.

Despite the loss, Housley was pleased with what he saw from his team.

"We're making a lot of good progress," he said. "We're still in that transition phase, so we're still trying to figure a lot of different expectations out, a lot of different styles of play. So, you know, it's a learning process and it takes time."

Although Saturday's loss looks lopsided on paper, the reality is that the Cowboys were in the contest until very late in the match.

Thurston jumped on top 21 minutes into the match on a goal by Nano Martinez-Rivera. However, the Cowboys battled back, scoring the tying goal with three minutes remaining in the half as Isaac Freeman scored on an assist from Mitch Warren.

Thurston struck again eight minutes into the second half on a goal by Finn Dumars. However, once again, the Cowboys battled back, tying the match at 2-2 on a goal by Eli Oelkers in the game's 56th minute.

But just one minute later, Thurston scored again, taking the lead for good on a goal by Carlos Vega-Diaz.

That's the way the match stayed until Thurston scored three more goals in the final 10 minutes as they pulled away for what looked like an easy win.

Housely indicated that late in the match, conditioning became a problem for the Cowboys.

"We have only two seniors on the team, just one returning from last year, and I think just three other guys that are returning from last year," he said. "Everyone else is brand new. So, it's a process. To have a few extra guys on the bench was nice today, but we're still trying to figure out our depth. We don't have a ton of depth right now, so we are asking a lot of minutes out of a lot of guys that aren't used to playing a lot of minutes."

The losses dropped the Cowboys to 0-3 on the season. The team is scheduled to play a pair of road matches this week. The team will face a JV team from Bend's new high school, Caldera, at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, then take on La Pine on Saturday, beginning at 1 p.m.

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