Rangers put pressure on in second half
4A GIRLS SOCCER
The Estacada girls soccer team struck twice early in the second half to earn a 2-2 draw with Seaside in a home match last Thursday.
The Rangers got onto the scoreboard a couple minutes after intermission when Audrey Walter played a long ball ahead to Katie Willis, who fended off a defender while making a run deep down the sideline before playing it into the middle. Teammate Taira Bunyard ran onto the ball, took a couple touches deep into the box and beat the keeper from 10 yards out.
"That brought our energy up, and we started attacking more," Bunyard said. "Both teams wanted it, but we did a better job with our passing and keeping possession of the ball."
Estacada pulled even five minutes later when the Seaside goalie left a kick short. Walter ran onto the ball in the Seagulls' defensive zone, settled into some open space and hit a laser from 30 yards out that sailed over the keeper's reach and into the top half of the goal.
"We were getting runs and had open shots. It was just a matter of taking them," Walter said. "We were finding the open players and were clicking more than we did in the first half."
Walter nearly notched a winning goal in the 60th minute, cutting to the inside and hitting a blast from 25 yards out that dinged the post and deflected off the goalie's body before settling in the grass just outside the goal line. The Seaside goalie was able to gather the ball before anyone arrived to clean up the rebound.
Ten minutes later, Bunyard and Abbey Turner played a give-and-go deep in Seaside territory, leaving Bunyard with a quick shot from 15 yards out that sailed over the top of the goal.
Not long after, Walter found herself with a chance after another Seaside mistake in the backfield. The Seagulls attempted to clear the ball away, only to see Walter raise a leg up waist-high to knock the ball down. She fired a quick shot from 40 yards out that forced the Seaside goalie to make a save.
Walter was on the move again minutes later.
This time, Willis used a sidewinder kick to take the ball out of mid-air and punch it into the corner of the field. Walter chased it down, beat her defender and sent a sharp-angled shot over the crossbar.
"At halftime we talked about having a greater desire to win those 50-50 balls, and I felt we really stepped up that intensity," Estacada coach Robert Franks said.
Estacada's final chance at victory came with less than four minutes to play when Willis made a run on a loose ball and collided with the goalie five yards from the goal. The ball sat alone on the turf a few feet away from the fallen players when Seaside's Lilli Taylor rushed in to kick it out of bounds.
Seaside created the final chance with a quick flip of the field that sent striker Emma Arden on a long run down the middle. She was closing in on the goal when Dyson caught up to the play and bumped her off the ball.
"I knew I had to sprint as hard as I could to be able to cut her off," Dyson said. "We really wanted to keep it tied, so I went my hardest to stop that goal."
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Robert Franks takes helm of soccer program
The Estacada girls soccer program is under a new direction this fall with the promotion of Robert Franks to head coach after serving as an assistant coach on the staff the past three seasons. Franks has lived in a number of states, mostly in the Midwest, although he and his family have been in Estacada for the past decade.
"I liked the country and my wife likes the ocean, so we listed what we wanted and said 'Let's go to Oregon'," Franks said.
Early-season injuries have prevented Franks from seeing his lineup at full strength. Hayven Richardson has been out with a broken wrist, while Mahleah Alexander is sidelined in the concussion protocol.
"We have no seniors, so we are a very young team," Franks said. "We need to play smart offense and move the ball more quickly — it's something we are getting better at."
Junior striker Audrey Walter has shown a nose for the goal with aggressive play in the offensive end.
"She is able to dribble at speed, and she is strong enough to hold off other players and hammer it from 20 to 30 yards out," Franks said.
Defensively, Franks is looking for a team approach to limit opponents' chances.
"It's a unit and a matter of them covering for each other," Franks said. "It's not about winning the ball, we need to win position and slow the other team down."
Ultimately, Franks wants to train his players to be able to reach the next level.
"My primary focus is to improve the players, so that they have the skills and the knowledge to take that opportunity if it is offered," Franks said.
Sept. 3 @ Banks L 1-0
Sept. 10 @ Valley Catholic L 6-0
Sept. 12 vs. Seaside T 2-2
Sept. 19 vs. Tillamook
Sept. 23 @ Gladstone
Sept. 25 vs. Molalla
Oct. 1 @ North Marion
Oct. 3 @ Corbett
Oct. 9 vs. Madras
Oct. 15 vs. Gladstone
Oct. 17 @ Molalla
Oct. 21 vs. North Marion
Oct. 23 vs. Corbett
Oct. 29 @ Madras
This story and season preview are slated for our Sept. 19, print edition.
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