Sherwood girls tipped on last-minute goal
SHERWOOD — It was 80 minutes of intense, fast-paced, well-played playoff action.
And, for 79 of those minutes, the Sherwood High School soccer team either held the lead, or was in a tie, in its battle with West Salem.
But, in that very final minute of regulation play, the Titans did something they hadn't done all match — take the lead.
West Salem, getting a goal in the 80th minute of action, came away with a 2-1 win over the Lady Bowmen in a thrilling Class 6A state playoff quarterfinal match played Saturday at Sherwood High School.
"We all came out knowing that we had to fight so hard," Sherwood senior defender Jillian Leroux said after the match. "We knew that this was one of the most important matches of our season. Both teams came out 100 perfect. We were all excited to play. We were nervous, but we were excited, and we came out and played as fast as we could."
"We fought really hard, and it went really well," Sherwood senior defender Ava Boughey said. "We had the ball most of the time. We had a lot of opportunities, but we just couldn't finish. I think everyone on the field played their heart out."
With the win, West Salem, the Mountain Valley Conference champion, and the No. 5 team in the final OSAA power rankings, improved to 14-0-3 on the season. The Titans also advance to play at Jesuit in a Class 6A state playoff semifinal match on Tuesday.
Sherwood, the Pacific Conference champion, and the No. 4 team in the final power rankings, finished its season with a final overall record of 15-2-1.
"It was a great season, the team was great. We're all so close to each other, on and off the field," Leroux said. "We have a good record, and we played strong every game. It's just unfortunate how it ended."
"This was a really fun season," Boughey said. "I think everyone really bonded."
Sherwood struck first in Saturday's quarterfinal battle. Lady Bowmen senior Loma McNeese, after taking a long pass from junior Kendall Mickelson, drilled a shot from 12 yards away int the right side of the West Salem goal, giving Sherwood a 1-0 lead with 34 minutes and 9 seconds left to play in the first half.
But that lead turned out to be short-lived. With 32:27 left in the opening half, the Bowmen were whistled for a foul in the penalty box. West Salem senior Paige Alexander converted the ensuing penalty kick, putting her shot into the left side of the Sherwood goal, tying the match at 1-1.
The Lady Bowmen battled the rest of the first half in an attempt to regain the lead.
With 23:35 remaining before halftime, McNeese had a shot skim off the top of the crossbar of the Titan goal, and go out of bounds. Three minutes later, McNeese had a shot on goal, coming off a free-kick pass by sophomore Emmry Schrems, saved by West Salem senior goalkeeper Abbey Knoll. Two minutes after that, Sherwood freshman Ella Weathers had a shot from 12 yards out slapped away by a diving Knoll, who then made a save on a follow-up shot by Schrems.
The Lady Bowmen also had shots by senior Alysia Alvarado and junior Joley Sproul late in the first half sail wide right of the goal, leaving the teams tied at 1-1 at halftime.
Sherwood seemed to turn up its intensity ever more in the second half.
With 33:48 remaining in regulation, Weathers had a shot from 14 yards away, with the ball looking to be destined to find the back of the net, but a leaping Knoll was able to make a last-second, one-handed deflection upward, then grabbing the ball for a save. Then, with 27:50 left in the half, Weathers hit another high, hard shot from 19 yards out, but a leaping Knoll was able to deflect the ball over the crossbar.
"Their keeper was great," Leroux said. "We tried our best."
Sherwood then got a clutch goalkeeper play of its own, as Bowmen junior Sidney Sproul, diving to her left, was able to slap away a hard shot by West Salem senior Olivia Orozco, coming with 23:45 left to play in the second half.
As time was winding down, with the match seemingly destined to go to overtime, West Salem was able to get the game-winner. Orozco, front the left side, hit a cross toward the front of the Sherwood goal, Alexander, sprinting in and timing things perfectly, was able to get her head on the ball, knocking it into the upper right side of the Bowmen goal, giving the Titans a 2-1 lead with just 50.7 seconds left in the match.
"That's how it goes. It could go either way, so fast," Leroux said. "It was so intense, every second. Every time it came down to our half, everyone got nervous, and every time we had it in their box, we all got super excited and wanted to score. It's too bad we didn't get one."
For the match, Sherwood had 10 shots on goal and six corner kicks. West Salem had four shots on goal and one corner kick.
The playoff loss marked the final high school match for Sherwood seniors Alysia Alvarado, Boughey, McNeese, Lauren Swanson, Leroux and Isa Frost.
"We've known each other for so long," Boughey said of the seniors. "So this is sad that this was the last time."
"It's sad that this is our last game together, but I'm just happy that I got to play with them," Leroux said.
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