Sherwood girls battle their way past South Eugene
SHERWOOD — Back and forth.
Momentum kept switching sides in the state playoff match.
But, at the end, Loma McNeese clearly put momentum on the side of the Sherwood High School girls soccer team. And she also helped give the Lady Bowmen a clutch playoff victory.
McNeese, scoring on a free-kick shot with just 2 minutes and 41 seconds left to play in the match, helped give Sherwood a 3-2 win over South Eugene in a Class 6A first-round state playoff contest played under rainy skies Saturday at Sherwood High School.
"It's a huge win," Sherwood junior defender Jillian Leroux said. "In the first round of the playoffs, you have to get through that before you can get anywhere else. Coming out here and crushing them is good. That's what we wanted to do. It was scary, but we got it."
"I think we were doing really well in the beginning, and then we kind of shut down for a little bit," Sherwood junior forward Alysia Alvarado said. "But, after they got their goals, we fought back."
"It just comes down to if you want it, or not, and we all really wanted it," McNeese said. "It wasn't just me that scored the goals, It was everyone."
With the loss, South Eugene, the No. 3 team out of the Southwest Conference and the No. 27 team in the final OSAA power rankings, finished its season with a final overall record of 5-7-3. Sherwood, the No. 2 team out of the Pacific Conference, and the No. 6 team in the power rankings, improved to 12-4 on the season. The Lady Bowmen also advance to the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs, where they'll host Westview in a match starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Sherwood High School.
The Lady Bowmen struck first in Saturday's postseason match, taking a 1-0 lead near the midway point of the first half when McNeese scored on a header shot off a corner kick by senior defender Abby Eisenbeiss.
Sherwood kept the 1-0 lead until there were just 27 minutes left to play, when South Eugene tied the match at 1-1. That's when things really got interesting.
With 15: 20 remaining, McNeese, after taking a pass from senior Kolleen Peters, scored on a shot from 14 yards away, putting the ball in the upper right corner of the South Eugene goal, giving Sherwood a 2-1 lead.
The goal seemed to fire up the Lady Bowmen, who followed with shots on goal by McNeese, freshman Ellie Schmidt, Alvarado and Leroux, who had her long-range free kick shot from 38 yards away hit the top of the crossbar of the South Eugene goal with 5:41 remaining.
Meanwhile, the Sherwood defense, including senior Madi Pastores, sophomore Morgen Fried, senior Jenna Funk and Leroux, was shutting down the Axe attack. But that changed with 5:09 left to play, when South Eugene sophomore Savannah Wegener scored on a shot from 20 yards away, coming off a pass from sophomore Devyn Simmons, tying the score at 2-2.
But Sherwood responded again. McNeese was fouled just outside the penalty box as time was winding down. She took the ensuing free kick and, from 22 yards away, she drilled a low line drive into the left side of the South Eugene goal with 2:41 remaining, giving the Lady Bowmen the winning goal in their 3-2 victory.
"Two minutes left, you have to show it," McNeese said. "There was a lot of pressure, but it was worth it."
"If we hadn't responded like we did, then we wouldn't have got this outcome, so it was good that we stepped it up," Leroux said.
"Now we know what we need to do," Alvarado said. "In the next game, we have to step it up."
Westview, the No. 4 team out of the Metro League and the No. 11 team in the power rankings, brings an overall record of 11-3-1 into Wednesday's second-round match.
"We just have to keep working harder," McNeese said. "That's all we can do."
The winner of Wednesday's second-round match at Sherwood will face either Tualatin or Clackamas in a state playoff quarterfinal contest on Saturday.