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Crook County Cowgirls look at positives, prepare to play new Bend school, Caldera

ANDY DIECKHOFF/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Crook County won most of the 50-50 balls in the midfield, but it was Madras that eventually got the game-winning goal at the end of the match.For more than 75 minutes, the season-opening matchup between Crook County and Madras looked as though it would end in a scoreless tie. Both teams had multiple chances to take the lead, but in the dying minutes of the game, the Cowgirls end up on the wrong side of a controversial goal that gave the White Buffalos a 1-0 win on their home field.

In the 78th minute, Madras junior Natalie Lockey lobbed a long lead pass over the Crook County defense and onto the foot of teammate forward Heidi Sedano, who made her way behind the Cowgirls' back line for the game-deciding goal. The question of when Sedano got past the Crook County defenders was a matter of some heated debate, as CCHS head coach pleaded for an offsides call to no avail.

"I think it was blatantly obvious that it was an offsides play," said Crook County head coach Destanie Johnson about the game's only goal. Rather than focus on that frustration after the match, Johnson instead pivoted to her team's efforts on the pitch.

"The girls still played hard until the last whistle, and I think that says a lot," said Johnson. "Even after a call that doesn't go the way that you want, you still are out there fighting for it until it's over."

The effort did not just come at the end for Crook County, though. The Cowgirls played with intensity throughout the match, especially in contesting for 50-50 balls in the midfield. Having a distinct size advantage over the Madras team, Crook County won the majority of those skirmishes.

"I am super impressed. We have a very young team and I think we have a good foundation, and that's showing." Johnson noted there were more than ten freshmen on the varsity roster, but none of the Cowgirls seemed intimidated in the opener. The team played physically but fairly, with very few foul calls going against them.

ANDY DIECKHOFF/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Senior Emma Bales takes one of three second-half corner kicks that the Cowgirls earned against Madras.The Cowgirls did take a bit of time to get going, with Madras controlling possession for the first few minutes before senior Emma Bales broke through and fired the team's first shot on goal. For most of the first half, though, neither team was able to pose much of a threat to the other.

The second half saw more chances for both sides, though Crook County did look like they might break the deadlock first. Roughly five minutes into the half, reeled off shots on two consecutive possessions, though neither found the back of the net. The Cowgirls earned three corner kicks during the final 40 minutes but could not convert, despite some close calls. Seniors Grace Brooks and Lauren Papke kept the White Buffalos' forwards in check, hounding would-be attackers on both the wings and in the middle of the pitch.

Over the final 15 minutes of the game, Madras began to find a better flow offensively. That took away some of the momentum that Crook County had been building, though the Cowgirls nearly found the back of the net with 12 minutes to play. In the end, though, it was the White Buffalos that walked away with the win.

"We learn lessons in every game," said Johnson after the game, noting that there are tweaks and adjustments that her team will make over the coming days. "I think we learned a lot in this game," she continued.

"We're looking forward to building off of this."

Crook County's next non-league match comes against the junior varsity squad from Caldera, the newest 6A school in Bend. The Cowgirls will host the Wolfpack at Crook County High School at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7. The Caldera JV team is coming off a 4-0 home win over the varsity side from 3A Sisters.

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