BILLINGS, Mont. — Everything but the scores during non-conference play suggested the Southern Oregon men's soccer team wasn't as bad as its record showed. At the best possible moment Friday, the Raiders finally got the result to prove it.
In the Cascade Conference opener on a misty afternoon at Herb Klindt Field, SOU collected its first-ever win against a ranked opponent in a 3-0 upset of No. 9 Rocky Mountain. Moreover, the Raiders (1-5) halted a five-game losing streak in which they were shut out four times.
Senior midfielder Sean McManamon did well to ease their nerves by scoring a mere 18 seconds into the match, stealing the ball from a defender and firing a low strike into the net. Prior to that play, the Raiders had tallied once this season on 59 shots and 25 on goal.
Against the Bears (4-1), they needed just six shots and four on goal to make their mark. Of Rocky's eight shots, only one required a Wyatt Zabinksi save.
The Raiders doubled their lead in the fourth minute. Ahmon Afenegus, a third-year starter who missed most of the preseason with an injury, directed a free kick to freshman Renee Resendez, who headed in the first goal of his career.
Though the Raiders packed in the defense in the second half, they tacked on in the 81st when Mitchell Pinney skipped a shot past keeper Cole Catlin. Travis Hopkins and Wyatt Zabinksi were both credited with assists.
The Bears, who have advanced to the national tournament each of the last five seasons, shared the 2016 championship with Corban thanks to a 2-1 win at SOU on the final day of the regular season that eliminated the Raiders from title contention. Entering the day, they'd gone 21-2-3 in CCC play since joining as an associate member in 2015.
As usual, the matchup was a contentious one with eight yellow cards issued — four on each team — and 31 fouls.
Corban is left as the only CCC team the Raiders have not defeated.
At 1 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday, they'll play at The College of Idaho.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN 4, SOUTHERN OREGON 3: At Billings, Mont., Southern Oregon has developed a Lauryn Gamache problem.
Last October, in the regular-season finale, Gamache scored the lone goal for Rocky Mountain in a defeat of SOU that ultimately robbed the Raiders of a national tournament berth. On Friday, in this season's CCC opener, Gamache ended the afternoon with three unanswered goals and made the Bears winners in double-overtime at Herb Klindt Field.
Gamache, a sophomore forward, has victimized more than just the Raiders (3-4) as of late, scoring eight goals during an active four-game winning streak for the Bears (5-1).
All three of her goals against SOU were scored without the benefit of an assist — in the 70th minute to cut a 3-1 deficit in half, in the 83rd to tie it, and in the 106th for the win after prying the ball from a defender and shooting over keeper Hannah Ceciliani.
The comeback spoiled a two-goal afternoon for senior forward Kelsey Randall, her second as a Raider. The 10th goal of her career, assisted by Makena Totushek, was fired low to the far post and broke a 1-1 tie in the 21st minute. In the 66th, Mia Volpatti set Randall up and she struck it low again past the keeper.
Hannah Taie's corner kick in the 13th minute was headed in by Maddy Spangler to give SOU a 1-0 lead. In the 18th, Alyssa Schneider deposited an equalizer on a rebound of Gamache's shot, giving Gamache an assist.
The Raiders last allowed four goals in a conference game on Oct. 6, 2006 against Concordia.
They play again at 11 a.m. Pacific Time on Sunday at The College of Idaho.
SOUTHERN OREGON 3, WARNER PACIFIC 2: At Portland, Southern Oregon remains nearly untouchable in tiebreaker sets, though that fact likely did little to temper the panic caused by dropping the first two sets against Warner Pacific.
SOU's 23-25, 25-27, 25-21, 29-27, 15-13 comeback win over the Knights marked its fourth five-set victory and third in Cascade Collegiate Conference matches. It made the Raiders 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the CCC this season, and it made them 16-2 in five-set matches since the start of 2014.
Another outstanding show put on by their freshman middles made it possible: Elliott Cook posted season bests of 14 kills on 26 attacks and eight blocks, and Makayla Hoyt stood beside her with 13 kills on 26 swings and five blocks. Together, they drove SOU to a .272 attacking average and 13 total blocks.
Right-side hitter Taylor Ristvedt (11 kills, 4 blocks) and outside hitter Malie Rube (11 kills) also came up big, getting a hand from setters Hannah Bogatin (38 assists) and Natalie James (24 assists), while libero Ashlyn Flynn recorded a match-high 22 digs and delivered two of the most unlikely and pivotal kills of the night.
After dropping the opening two sets by slim margins, the Raiders busted open a 21-21 tie in the third with four straight points as Rube and Ristvedt dropped in kills and the front line coaxed WPC's Jenna Mast, the leading hitter in the conference, into consecutive errors.
Mast's massive night included a whopping 28 kills on 64 swings — she hit .281 overall — and the Raiders had to overcome 10 of them in a marathon fourth set. They served for set point unsuccessfully three times in the frame before the Knights flipped it on them, going up 27-26 on an Alana Jennings service ace. Flynn tied it with a kill out of the back row, and consecutive Rube kills gave SOU a win in its longest set in two years.
With SOU up 11-10 in the fifth, Cook provided some breathing room by delivering a kill and teaming up with Ristvedt for a block. And after Knights kills by Melisa Ljuca and Mast, Flynn came through with her second kill from the back to make it 14-12. Mast answered with her final kill, but a WPC service error finally ended the match.
Ariana Sattler helped the Raiders pull through with eight kills and four blocks, and Johnson finished with seven kills.
The Raiders are 18-0 on WPC's home floor all-time in CCC play.
At 5 p.m. today, they'll go for their fourth straight win at Multnomah.