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Errant ball, questionable call lead to Crook County High School boys soccer defeat

LON AUSTIN - Senior team leader Mitch Warren boots the ball during the Cowboys' tough loss against Redmond. Though the Cowboys didn't win a game this year, they came up just short against Redmond in their final, 1-0.

It was an up and down week for the Crook County High School boys soccer team.

The Cowboys were blasted 8-0 on the road on Tuesday at Ridgeview, then rebounded to play a game that went down to the wire on Thursday at home against the Redmond Panthers.

"We just fell apart," senior captain Mitch Warren said of Tuesday's match at Ridgeview. "We didn't pass the ball. We tried to play long ball the whole time and we should have just kept playing short ball, keeping it cool and calm. It was pretty embarrassing."

Less than 15 minutes into the second half, Ridgeview scored their eighth goal and the match was over.

Head coach Bryan Housley agreed that the team's performance could have been better.

"Tuesday was a game where the guys came out and they were already checked out," he said. "Ridgeview is such a powerful team that we kind of had the mentality of lets just play as hard as we can and then as soon as that first goal came, you could see them check out."

Crook County has just 23 players on the roster and Tuesday they played a JV contest prior to the varsity match. Housely said that contributed to what happened in the varsity game.

"With only one sub that night because we decided to play the JV match, it was tough to counteract those attitudes because we couldn't pull people out."

However, Housley added that he was glad that the team played the JV match.

"Those kids deserve to play," he said. "They are here every day for practice, and all those JV guys are freshmen, so it would have done them a huge disservice to not see what it's like to play because they are putting in the effort every day in practice."

Wednesday the Cowboys had a fun practice for the seniors, and did little to prepare for their final match of the season, instead making sure that everyone was loose and had fun in the final practice of the year.

The strategy worked as the Cowboys played inspired soccer for most of the match against Redmond before losing on a controversial penalty kick with just 1:05 left in the match.

Crook County controlled the ball virtually the entire first half, taking shot after shot. However, the Cowboys were unable to connect. Late in the half, Crook County was threatening to score when someone from the youth soccer program kicked a second ball onto the field, stopping play and ending the Cowboy scoring opportunity. Although the Cowboys had other scoring opportunities, none were as close to the goal or as wide open as that opportunity.

With the score tied 0-0 at the half, the Cowboys made very few adjustments for the second half.

However, as the half went on, Redmond was able to gain control of the ball for greater periods of time, and eventually began to get shots at the Crook County goal.

"The plan was to actually try to play everybody," Housley said. "But the game took a different turn and the competitive nature that the starters had from the get-go, basically playing 90 percent of the game in our offensive third for that first half, really gave us a lot of momentum going into that second half. But we just didn't have the same shots that we had in the first half, so we had gone away from some of the midfield attack that we had in the first half."

As darkness fell on the field, the game became a little chippy and the officials warned both teams and gave the Cowboys a yellow card. Shortly after, a Redmond player got behind the Crook County defense. He appeared to be fouled outside of the penalty area, then fell without contact inside the 18-meter area. Instead of awarding a foul outside of the box, the officials awarded a penalty kick, and Redmond took advantage, connecting on the kick for a 1-0 victory.

"Great soccer," Housley told his team following the match. "Great soccer. I'm so proud of what you have proved to yourself today, and I wish the rest of the league could have seen it, because that's the kind of soccer the Cowboys want to continue playing. I'm sad that it came on the final game of the season, but, you know what, better late than never. You guys had some good games this season, but this one was crazy good. For me as a coach who has seen a ton of soccer, you guys went above and beyond today."

Although he was disappointed to not win the match, Warren was pleased with how well the team played.

"To be honest, I think we just looked back and saw how embarrassing it was to lose 8-0," he said. "Today, everything just clicked for us. It was insane, this is by far the best performance that we have ever had today. I think looking back on it this is a good note. This is the best way we could have lost.

I'm proud of all my teammates. I'm thankful that I got to play with all these freshmen. They are a real good group of kids and I hope the best for their future because I won't be here anymore. So, I hope they do amazing in life and I hope that they turn this program around and by the time that they are older they are winning every time."

With the losses, the Cowboys finished the year with an 0-14 record and an 0-10 mark in the Intermountain Conference.

Meanwhile, Ridgeview advances to the state playoffs, where they will play at Stayton on Tuesday.

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