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Crook County High School outscores The Dalles in second half, but they still fall

LON AUSTIN - Nils Hansen, 9, advances the ball against The Dalles at Crook County last Thursday. The Cowboys fells behind 4-0 at halftime but then played much better in the second half, outscoring the Riverhawks 1-0 in the stanza.

For several matches now, the Crook County High School boys soccer team has been competitive in the first half, but then struggled in the second half of games.

Thursday was a different matter as the homestanding Cowboys allowed The Dalles Riverhawks to jump out to a 4-0 first half lead before outplaying the Riverhawks in the second half of a 4-1 Intermountain Conference loss.

"We switched up our rotation a little bit and that could have been a factor," forward Mitch Warren said. "We all just decided that we are tired of losing and we have to do something about it, so we all played better together in the second half. We all came in as a team and we passed the ball more and that was a big factor in the second half."

Warren scored the Cowboys' lone goal early in the second half. Logan Matthews was fouled just inside the 18 meter line, earning a penalty kick. Matthews and Warren then played rock, paper, scissors to see who would take the penalty shot with Warren winning and calmly hitting the back of the net.

For the remainder of the second half, the Cowboys continued to pressure the Riverhawks, but were unable to score again.

With the loss, Crook County fell to 0-6 in Intermountain Conference play and 0-10 overall, while The Dalles improved to 3-2-1 in league play and 4-4-2 overall.

Still, the Cowboys have shown improvement as the season has gone on and are excited about the future.

"It's different soccer and it's a different level of soccer that the players play," German foreign exchange student and midfielder Nils Hansen said. "We have soccer all year and here they play only for a few months. The first half wasn't much, but the second half we got better. We need to play more like this. We played a little bit more aggressive and got more wins in one versus ones and made more shots to the target. It's different here, but I think it's going better and it's kind of fun here."

Warren added that although he isn't sure how many wins the team will be able to get this year, that Crook County is improving and is going to be a force in Central Oregon soccer in the near future.

"I'm a firm believer that in the next three years this program will be tough to beat," he said. "It is hard to flip a team in one year. It takes progression. It takes everyone working together. I think in the next couple of years this team is going to be unbeatable by Intermountain Conference teams."

The Cowboys play at Hood River Valley on Tuesday, then return home on Thursday to host the Pendleton Buckaroos. Both matches are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m.

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