Damascus stumbles in league playoff
District 7 playoff
|North Clackamas Christian|
The Damascus Christian soccer team finally found a league foe that could hang with them, dropping a playoff match 3-2 against North Clackamas Christian on Monday afternoon.
The Eagles were a perfect 10-0 through the league schedule, outscoring their opponents by almost five goals per game. That included an early-season 6-1 win over the same Saints.
"We have athletic kids, who have been able to run and play the full 80 minutes all season, and that's allowed us to outscore most teams in the second half of games," Damascus coach Jake Nelson said. "North Clackamas came in today and ran with us better than anyone has all season."
Damascus found itself in the strange spot of playing from behind, coming out of halftime down 2-1.
The Eagles had a chance to get the equalizer in a hurry when North Clackamas misplayed a ball in the backfield, allowing Carter Clear to run onto the ball for a quick touch that rolled wide.
Five minutes later, Damascus would pull even.
Zach Nelson picked off a pass in the midfield and moved into space along the right side before crossing a ball through the 18-yard box. Teammate Nate Bogdan ran onto the ball on the far side of the field and hit a sharp-angled shot past the goalie.
North Clackamas' John Wang proved to be trouble throughout the match, slipping through gaps in the defense and getting repeated high-quality looks at the goal.
He was on the move again with 15 minutes to play, stealing a ball along the sideline and taking several touches toward the goal. Damascus defender Axel Clear crashed the scene and cleared the ball out of danger before it reached the goalie.
With time ticking down, it was becoming clear that the next goal would win the match.
Carter Clear took Damascus' best shot when he got in close on the left side only to have Saints' goalie Hadden Stark make the block from point-blank range.
North Clackamas flipped the field, and put Wang on another run at the goal when a bouncing ball slipped through the midfield. He had a defender closing in on each side when he took a soft touch into the middle and took his shot from about 15 yards out just as Axel Clear went into a desperate slide attempt at the ball. Wang slotted the shot perfectly inside the near post for the winner with five minutes to play.
"I wanted to make sure I got through the defense, so that I only had the goalie left to face," Wang said. "I picked the right direction to move and was able to get off a good shot."
Despite keeping the ball in the Saints' end, Damascus was unable to create any dangerous chances down the stretch.
"They did a good job plugging up the middle and making it difficult for us to pass in tight spaces — they just played great defense," Jake Nelson said.
The Eagles took an early 1-0 lead when Micah Colburn and Bogdan played a series of passes into the attacking zone, setting up a finish by Nelson in the 16th minute.
North Clackamas answered with goals by Wang and Braden Young to hold the upper hand at halftime.
Damascus (15-2) takes on Columbia Christian in the league's third-place game at 5 p.m. Saturday at Wilsonville High School.
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This story is slated for our Friday, Nov. 1, print edition.
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