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The Cavaliers put the ball into their own net in the 80th minute of Thursday's non-conference game at Delta Park's Strasser Field

PMG PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Clackamas' Colm Dady (16) challenges Grant's Nicholas Lattal (9) for possession during the closing minutes of Thursday night's non-conference boys soccer match at Delta Park's Strasser Field.Clackamas High School's boys soccer team was less than a minute away from putting one in the win column against the No. 7-ranked Grant Generals on Thursday night.

Then the Cavaliers had the rug yanked out from under them in perhaps the worst ways possible — on an own goal that lifted the Generals into a 2-2 non-conference tie at Delta Park's Strasser Field.

Mistakes happen, especially in the heat of the moment.

In this case, Clackamas senior midfielder Tyler Bennett controlled the ball off a Grant throw-in near the left edge of the Cavaliers' 16-yard box and tried to play it back to senior goalkeeper Hunter Johnson.

Unfortunately for Clackamas, Johnson was on his way out of the goal to make a play on the ball as Bennett flicked it out the keeper's reach and across the goal line.

"Just a lapse of communication, a misunderstanding," Hunter said. "Maybe a little rush of adrenalin, you know? I came out for the ball and he thought I was back in my goal, so he flipped it back to me and I wasn't there."

The unfortunate miscue reduced what had been close to a five-star performance down to a solid four-star effort for the Cavaliers (0-0-2), who used goals by Cooper Sheakley in the second minute and Colm Dady in the 30th minute to take a 2-1 lead.

"Results isn't everything now," Cavaliers coach Thomas Keen said. "A win would have been great, obviously. But the beauty of the system as it is, playing good teams like this, drawing against them is not the end of the world.

"It doesn't harm us. It would boost us if we'd won, but to have an away performance like this I think is very encouraging. Last year, we struggled away from home. This was a big step for us."

Trading blows

Clackamas got the jump on Grant when junior midfielder Brady Fendrich forced a turnover in the attacking third of the field and laid the ball off to Sheakley, the junior striker whose shot from the right side of the 16 beat keeper Nate Semler to the far post.

The Generals answered in the 12th minute when Nicholas Lattal drove with the ball from the right wing and sent a pass across the goalmouth that found Aremarion Jackson crashing the far post. Johnson stopped Jackson's initial shot, but left out a rebound that Jackson finished to pull Grant even.

Clackamas junior forward Cameron Gaines helped the Cavaliers regain the lead with a free kick from about 40 yards out on the right side into the middle of the 16 where Dady, the senior defender, ran onto the ball and headed it inside the far post to make it 2-1.

"I was hoping Cameron would knock it in right behind Grant's back line, right above the defense, right there, and that I could just run in and get a flick on it, on goal, and maybe put some pressure on the keeper," Dady said. "I think it hit one of their players and bounced in, so it was kind of a string of luck, but I was there."

In the second half, Grant's Arthur Simmonds fired a shot over the goal in the 58th minute, Lattal sent another the missed the frame wide to the left in the 65th minute, and the Generals had another scoring chance whistled down by an offside call in the 74th minute.

The Strasser Field scoreboard wasn't working, so the referee kept the official time on the field. It was unclear exactly how much time was remaining as Grant set up for its final throw-in, and although there were those who said they heard the alarm sound on the referee's watch before the ball was put into play, the Generals were allowed one final opportunity to make something happen in what basically amounted to stoppage time.

"Overall, I thought we played a solid game," Johnson said. "I feel like we controlled the game for the most part. Just a couple of lapses in concentration cost us two goals."

Said Dady: "I definitely think we should have won that one, but unfortunate things happen all the time. I think we played to the best of our abilities and I think we put everything out on the field. We got unlucky there towards the end, but I'm really proud of my team right now."

Moving forward

Keen said despite the tie, which came on the heels of a 2-2 tie Tuesday against No. 6-ranked Forest Grove, there were good reasons for the Cavaliers to hold their heads high.

"We've played two good teams, two teams that I expect to be very difficult opponents later in the season and the playoffs," Keen said. "And in both games when we've been 11 vs. 11 or we played to our best, we outplayed both teams, so we can take a lot of heart from that.

"If we are going to make a really good run at trying to do something big here, then we are on track, but we are not ahead of schedule. So, we are currently a good team that has the potential to be a very good team if we keep working on our shape and working on the things that need improving.

"We have a style that I think suits our players and I think when we stick to our principals and play our game, we're going to make it a really tough game for everyone in the state. But, there are still things to be learned. That's where we're at."

The Cavaliers return home on Monday for a non-conference game against Sherwood (1-2) in a 7 p.m. match and then go back on the road Thursday to face Beaverton (2-2) at 7:30 p.m.

By Jim Beseda
Sports editor
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