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Smoke shifts then cancels games; Cowboys lose a tough one to La Pine Saturday, 5-4

It was an interesting week for the Crook County High School boys soccer team.

First, the team was forced inside for practice on Monday due to poor air quality. Then, their road match Tuesday against Caldera High School was moved from Bend to Prineville due to air quality in Bend. Once in Prineville, the two schools played their JV match, then minutes prior to the scheduled start of the varsity match, it was postponed, once again due to air quality issues.

The match was moved back to Bend on Wednesday, only to be canceled, once again because of air quality.

That left just one match for the Cowboys on the week, a Saturday game at Class 3A La Pine.

The Cowboys got off to a great start in the match, opening up a 4-2 halftime lead, only to see the match slip away as La Pine outscored the Cowboys 3-0 in the second half to come away with a 5-4 win.

"The Cowboys had over 20 chances at goal on Saturday in La Pine, but could only convert four into goals," Crook County head coach Bryan Housley said.

Mitch Warren scored a pair of first-half goals for the Cowboys, while Logan Matthews and Giovani Vargas also scored in the half.

The Cowboys had plenty of opportunity to score more goals in the second half, but were unable to convert.

Meanwhile, La Pine took advantage of what Housley charitably described as questionable officiating to work their way back into the game in the second half, tying the match late, then scoring the winning goal in the match's final seconds.

"La Pine would get the go-ahead goal on a missed off sides call, creating a defensive scramble with just seconds left in the match," Housley said.

The off sides rules interpretation has been changed since last year, making officiating the call much more complicated. In the past, if any offensive player was behind the final defender other than the goalkeeper when a ball was passed by his team, that automatically became an off sides call. The call is no longer as cut and dried with officials now given the discretion of not making the call if the player who is off sides is not actually involved in the play. That has made the call much more difficult to make, as well as creating multiple judgment calls throughout a match.

Housley believes that Crook County should have won the match. Instead, the Cowboys find themselves with an 0-4 record heading into the league season.

The team has a week off before opening Intermountain Conference play on Thursday, Sept. 23 on the road at The Dalles/Dufur in a 5 p.m. match. Crook County does not return home until Tuesday, Sept. 28 when they take on Hood River Valley in a 5:30 p.m. match.

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