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Barlow girls soccer survived a flurry of shots in second half from visiting Central Catholic.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Barlow strategized and rallied during a stoppage in play during a 3-1 victory over Central Catholic Thursday, Oct. 14. Barlow Girls Soccer found itself under siege Thursday night, Oct. 14, as a tenuous lead was put to the test in a match against a fellow top team in the conference.

The Bruins came out of halftime against Central Catholic with a 2-1 lead thanks to a flurry of blistering counterattacks in the first. But the tenor of the match shifted as the Rams sought an equalizer. Possession was mired in the Bruin half and shots were flying toward goal.

"In the second half they pressed and threw numbers forward," said Barlow Coach Jay Jacobsen. "We bent, but didn't break."

With 12 minutes left, during an injury break, Barlow huddled on the field. The team strategized and committed to finishing the match. They spoke about winning the 50/50 balls, and not coming up short.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Central Catholic sophomore Lucy Cratsenberg eyes up a free kick during a match at Barlow.After Central Catholic star sophomore Lucy Cratsenberg sent the free kick inches wide of the post, just missing the equalizer, Barlow struck back for the clinching goal. Senior forward Abbie Nelson intercepted a botched clear at the top of the box and calmly scored her second of the night on an empty net for a 3-1 Bruin home victory.

"That was a battle, we knew they would give us a tough match," said Barlow Coach Jay Jacobsen. "It was a dog fight, but we went in wanting to get up on them early to relieve some pressure."

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - The Bruins defense bent but didnt break during an onslaught in the second half by the Rams. In both halves the Rams (3-2 league, 4-7 overall) got off to quick starts with a threatening shot in the opening minute. Shortly after the opening kickoff, Rams sophomore Mollie Mackey launched a chance on frame after it rolled across the front of goal.

But after that near miss the Bruins (4-0-1 league, 7-2-3 overall) fired their opening salvo. Just 30 seconds later they worked the ball quickly up the right flank and found senior forward Carina Toth at the top of the box. She was able to get an angle and fire her shot into the back of the net for the opening goal.

For the rest of the first half the Rams would find control of possession, work up the field and threaten dangerous attempts that often ended in corner kicks. With 28:13 left in the first, Central Catholic senior Sophia Bowman scored the team's only goal of the match.

Eight minutes later the Bruins answered back off a set piece. Nelson settled a free kick, found time to line up a shot and ripped it to put her team up 2-1.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Barlow goal keeper Camryn Waibel settles herself after a diving save. Throughout the match Bruin senior keep Camryn Waibel looked impressive, with diving saves and a steady presence for her backline even as Central Catholic strung together a series of chances. Senior centerback Berenice Luna Cruz also had a strong performance, dominating the 50/50 balls and notching timely clears.

With the victory the Bruins maintained their spot atop the Mt. Hood Conference standings as the only undefeated team. It will continue to be a close race down the stretch, with Centennial, David Douglas and Clackamas continuing to nip at their heels.

"We want to win it all and be at the top of the table in the conference," Jacobsen said. "We are going to finish strong."

Barlow will next host Nelson at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - Bruins senior centerback Berenice Luna Cruz defends in the second half of a 3-1 victory over Central Catholic.

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - With the victory, the Bruins remain undefeated in conference play.

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