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Since the team has not won a game in three years, drop to 4A may help the Cowgirls team find victories

PMG PHOTO BY LON AUSTIN - Emily Ruiz plays the ball during the Aug. 26 soccer jamboree.The Crook County High School girls soccer team has not won a game in three years.

However, playing in a jamboree at Caldera High School on Thursday, the Cowgirls looked better than they have in years. Although the team lost all three of their 20-minute matches, they looked competitive much of the time.

"We are going to a flat back four and (the Cowgirls) are more used to playing a more traditional sweeper stopper," first-year head coach Mary Buell said. "Their first game, they were very sloppy, but we were very direct in our communication at the end of the game and I think we improved on it and kept our shape. I think we gave up 20 shots on goal the first game, knocked it down to nine shots the second game, and then I think it was under 10 the third game as well."

The Cowgirls lost their first match 3-0 to the Mountain View Cougars, fell 2-0 to the Ridgeview Ravens in match two, then lost 5-0 to the Caldera Wolfpack in match three.

Although the team was shut out each match, they did get scoring opportunities, something that has been few and far between the last several years.

"Caldera is a higher level team and so the results weren't unexpected by any means," Buell said. "Even though the scoreboard showed one thing, the effort and the growth of our team was exponential, so I think it's worth it to play against the higher level teams. It sets the bar high and it shows that even under that kind of pressure, playing these teams that have a lot of club year-round players, we can make improvements and we can grow still. We have a lot of areas that we need to work on, but I'm happy with the growth and I'm happy with their desire to learn."

Buell added that the team has been working hard in practice and are making progress on a daily basis.

"The work rate has been incredible," she said. "These girls have an awesome work ethic, they come to practice and give me 100 percent and I have seen a lot of progress just in two weeks and just now in the jamboree."

The team also has good leadership with three captains that each bring something different to the table. Those captains — Gabby Wood, McKenna Duran and Paige Stewart — are all juniors.

"All of them have different roles," Buell noted. "We've got one that's very accepting and really good at welcoming the new girls onto the team. We've got another that's very positive and vocal during play, so she keeps the team organized and structured, and then we've got another that's just the energizer bunny and keeps the intensity up."

Buell added that defenders Lucy Brooks and Kylie Merwin, both sophomores, are also vocal leaders on the field."

Crook County has just one senior on the roster, goalkeeper Lakyra Walker. The team has six juniors 11 sophomores and 10 freshmen and would welcome more players to the roster if anyone is interested.

The move from Class 5A to Class 4A should help make the Cowgirls more competitive. Although that may not translate to a lot of wins this year with most of the roster returning next season things are looking up for Cowgirl soccer.

They opened the season on Monday at Westside Christian, however, results were not available by press time. The Cowgirls will then have some time before their next match, a home game against North Bend on Saturday, Sept. 10. Gametime is set for 1 p.m.

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