North Medford’s Joe Lopez, second from right, takes a shot at the goal as South Medford’s Cody Walport, second left, defends in the first half of Tuesday’s match. - Jamie Lusch

South squeaks by North

It was everything typical of a North Medford-South Medford matchup in boys soccer.

Only this time, overtime was not needed and Joe Lopez would not have the final say.

Lopez, a Black Tornado senior, did deposit the game's first goal in the 44th minute, but South Medford managed to respond and climb ahead late in the contest to hold on for a 2-1 victory in a Southwest Conference game at Hoffbuhr Field on Tuesday.

Lopez has twice handed the Panthers a defeat over the last two years with an overtime goal.

His header goal in Tuesday's contest came off a cross from the right side from Leo Keiser.

"If I were a betting man," said Panther coach Dave Kaufman, "I'd bet that Joe's going to get an opportunity, and if he does, he'll probably ice it."

But unlike the previous two defeats where Lopez delivered a key goal, South had an answer.

Humberto Cortez scored the equalizer for South Medford (3-3-1, 3-0 SWC) in the 60th minute from about 10 yards out and Gilmar Lopez-Cruz rifled home the go-ahead score with nine minutes remaining from about 20 yards away.

"That was a laser of a shot," said Tornado coach Matt Soper. "We messed around with it in back a little too much and failed to clear it. (Lopez-Cruz) came in and hit a laser."

North Medford (2-4-1, 1-2 SWC) had managed to control possession for much of the game but couldn't cash in on its opportunities.

"I think they probably had better chances," said Kaufman, whose team is in sole possession of first place in the SWC. "But we put away the ones we got.

"Their midfield is so strong and it was presenting us with a lot of problems. I have to commend our guys in the back because they were under siege much of the game."

Kaufman highlighted the defensive efforts of goalkeeper Skyler Holt, along with Matt North (defensive midfielder) and Michael Eagle (marking back).

"One of the things about their guys up front is they typically create some very quality opportunities," Kaufman said. "I felt we held off their attack, came back and tied it and carried that momentum through for another goal."

North Medford, which was picked to win the league in a preseason coaches' poll, has lost by one goals in each of its two conference defeats.

"I felt well with how we possessed the ball and with how we played," Soper said. "We just had a couple of breakdowns and they capitalized."

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