Oregon City threatens an upset in round one
6A GIRLS SOCCER
GRESHAM — The Oregon City girls soccer team was on the verge of pulling off the biggest upset of this year's playoffs before No. 8-ranked Barlow pulled off some late-match magic to take a 2-1 first-round win Saturday night.
The Pioneers went into halftime locked into a scoreless game against Mount Hood Conference-champion Barlow, one of four unbeaten teams at the big-school level.
Oregon City's senior goalie Nova Ceperich was on her game, making a handful of acrobatic saves none more impressive than a diving stop on Barlow's Abbie Nelson, who let loose from near the penalty dot midway through the first half.
Oregon City also caught a break when all-state striker Abi Hoffman found space about 15 yards out and unleashed a shot top shelf. She turned toward midfield with her arms halfway up to celebrate when the ball clipped the underside of the crossbar and stayed out of the net.
Oregon City's best chance over the first 40 minutes came when Harley Daniel drew a foul on a run down the left sideline, setting up teammate Maddy Phelps for a dangerous free kick from about 30 yards out.
The Pioneers could not convert the chance, but would get another look when Daniel slid down to challenge a ball against Barlow's Bridget Aguirre. The result was an Oregon City throw-in near the corner flag. The ball sailed into a jumble of players at the near post before Barlow cleared it out of danger, eventually giving Oregon City a corner kick.
The Bruins' growing frustration being locked in a scoreless battle showed itself when the referee stopped the clock and showed a yellow card to the Barlow bench.
Oregon City's Bailey Gray drew a foul in the attacking zone with only seconds remaining in the half. In fact, the clock moved to zeroes before the Pioneers could put a free kick into play.
Oregon City's wait wouldn't be much longer.
Not even two minutes into the second half, Ceperich hit a deep goal kick beyond the center line where Alexa Dissen flicked it ahead into the attacking zone. Oregon City junior Taylor Salisbury quickly gained a step on her defender and finished a shot inside the far post to give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead.
"All I can say is that it boiled down to teamwork — everyone was putting in a big effort," Salisbury said. "I just had to keep my head down and finish it for my team."
Oregon City's backline came up with some big plays with Kaydyn Guelsdorf chasing down a Bruins' breakaway chance, and Phelps twisting her body to absorb a hard blast in her side that left her hunched over as Barlow set up for the ensuing corner kick.
It would take a few more minutes, but Barlow would find the equalizer with 31:42 left when Abbie Nelson got loose on a run deep down the right side and beat the diving goalie with a low shot inside the far post.
"Kennedie (Shuler) got the ball through the defense. I just had to catch up to it and look for the corners," Nelson said. "We worked hard to stay positive, and it was a great feeling when that one went in."
That left each side with 30 minutes in regulation to hunt the winning goal.
Oregon City got the first chance when Jaynie Rust went on a dangerous run into the box that ended in a collision with Barlow goalie Elizabeth Springer 15 yards out.
Barlow flipped the field, dinged the frame twice and saw a header loop high and get trapped in the top netting.
Next, the flow turned to Oregon City's attacking zone where Phelps hit a free kick that forced Springer to drop to her knees for the save. Bailey Gray would hit another close range free kick over the cross bar, and Harley Daniel slid down to put a ball on target that forced Springer to make a save at the near post.
Barlow would control play in Oregon City's end of the field for much of the final 20 minutes, getting the winning goal with 17:12 to play on Hoffman's free kick from 40 yards out. She hit a power shot that dove to the turf as it approached the goal, slipping through a narrow window in the bottom left.
"There was a little corner of the goal open, and I found it," Hoffman said. "I just had to take my time, make it and accurate shot and drill it."
Hoffman almost added an insurance goal with a blast from 25 yards out that Oregon City goalie Nova Ceperich was able to tip over the bar.
Oregon City's last gasp came as the clock moved under five minutes, and Rust played a roller ahead into the attacking zone. Teammate Daniel gave chase down the center of the field, but Barlow defender Rachel Maness was a step ahead and arrived in time to clear the ball out the side.
"I've always been a speedy player, so on something like that I just zone out and go full speed," Maness said.
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