The Crook County High School girls soccer team dropped a pair of matches this past week, falling 8-0 on Tuesday to Caldera, then losing a close 1-0 match to La Pine on Saturday.
Tuesday at home, the Cowgirls stayed close for much of the first half. Caldera scored their first goal nine minutes into the match. Caldera scored again 29 minutes into the match to go ahead 2-0. Still, the Cowgirls struggled to push the ball into the Caldera half of the field, as Caldera dominated time of possession. Crook County still trailed just 2-0 until just three minutes left in the half when Caldera scored again to take a 3-0 lead into the half.
The second half Caldera dominated play, scoring five goals in just 25 minutes before the match was called on the eight-goal mercy rule. The Cowgirls and Caldera had seen each other previously at the Sisters jamboree, and senior defender Lauren Papke said that played a part in how the match went.
"I think the primary difference was our focus and where we were at with our heads in the game," she said. "I think because we played this team before, we came in with an idea of what it would look like. Instead of coming in with clear eyes and fresh minds, we came in with an expectation that hey, we are probably going to lose, but it might be close, instead of coming in with the enthusiasm and energy to win it."
Papke added that the team struggled some with teamwork.
"If we want to go into league and we want to excel, we are going to need to work as one," she said. "We are going to need to listen and we are going to need to trust each other that we know what we are doing and then be able to listen to others when they tell us something we need to do because they see something that we don't. We have upper classmen that have been playing together for years and then we've got a huge group of freshmen coming in and we have just met them and they have just met us. They know each other, but they don't know us and they don't know what it is like to play at a level like this. If we can come together as one and understand each other's strengths and weaknesses, that is going to be the biggest thing that we can accomplish."
Saturday, the team took a giant step forward when it came to playing together.
"It was a really great game," head coach Destiny Johnson said following the match.
Goalkeeper Paige Stewart had more than 20 saves in the match, while defender Emily Ruiz was able to push the ball forward and create some momentum for the Cowgirls. Emma Bales, who was a defender a year ago, had multiple shots on goal during the match but was unable to find the back of the net.
The Cowgirls made just one mistake in the entire match. Unfortunately, the Hawks capitalized, scoring the lone goal of the match on the Cowgirl error.
With the pair of losses, Crook County is now 0-3 on the year. The team has nearly two weeks to prepare before hosting Lakeview in a 1 p.m. match on Saturday, Sept. 25. The team then opens league on the road on Tuesday, Sept. 28 at Hood River Valley.
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