La Salle girls soccer wins again, beats Pendleton 4-0 in Class 5A quarterfinals
The sharks were circling.
The La Salle girls soccer team — coming off an 8-0 win its playoff opener — didn't score for almost 25 minutes in its Saturday, Nov. 6, state quarterfinal, but the Falcons said they knew it was only a matter of time.
Despite its slow start, second-ranked La Salle scored three times in the first half and once in the second to beat No. 7 Pendleton/Weston-McEwen 4-0 and advance to the state semifinals on Tuesday, Nov. 9.
"I felt like we were all really confident in the team room, like 'We've got this. We just have to work hard and play our game and finish our chances,' and we did that today," said La Salle senior midfielder Natalie Pfleger, who assisted on two goals against Pendleton.
"I think we know that we can score," said junior midfielder Maia Gutmann, who scored once in the victory. "We have a lot of high-scoring players on this team and we knew that … this was not the time to give up or to stop fighting early in the game, so we just kept grinding and we got our goal."
"It just seems like if we keep trying, we're going to make one if we just keep consistently shooting," added senior defender Gretchen Shea, who added one assist in the win.
With the win — the team's eighth straight — the Falcons improved to 14-2-1 overall after placing second in the Northwest Oregon Conference. Pendleton, meanwhile, lost for the second time in its final three games and finished at 11-4-1 after placing second in the Intermountain Conference.
After a variety of unfulfilled early chances, the Falcons broke through to take a 1-0 lead with 15 minutes, 39 seconds left in the first half when Shea sent a cross into the Buckaroos' penalty box and sophomore midfielder Natalia Gonzalez hit a shot toward the right corner that Pendleton sophomore keeper Miranda Medrano caught, then dropped, into the corner of the goal.
La Salle then closed the half with a flourish, with sophomore midfielder Sydney Spotts making a steal, racing up the left seam and left-footing a shot to the far post with 1:17 to go before the break. Then, with 26 seconds left on the clock, Pfleger passed the ball out to junior midfielder Emilia Warta for a 12-yard shot from the middle of the penalty box that gave her team a 3-0 lead at the half.
"We've been practicing our shooting for a while and it feels like we're finally getting it," Pfleger said. "Just walking out of the field, the vibe was really good and everyone was super motivated and I could tell that everyone wanted it really bad today."
La Salle then added its fourth goal just 3:58 into the second half when Pfleger sent a corner kick into the box from the right side and Gutmann knocked it home at the far post for the final 4-0 margin.
Next up, the Falcons will host No. 3 North Eugene in the state semifinals at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, with a state championship berth in the line.
"We know that we have to come out swinging," Gutmann said. "We know that we're not going to be handed the game and they … have only been scored on (two) times so … we're going to have to really grind it out and make sure we come in focused and at maximum capacity."
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