For the second year in a row, Southern Oregon University team shook up the Cascade Conference men’s soccer title race right out of the gate Friday afternoon at Raider Stadium.
The Raiders pushed around and knocked off No. 9-ranked Rocky Mountain (Mont.), 2-0, in a matchup of last year’s CCC regular-season co-champions as seniors Carlos Magana punched in a first-half goal and Paul Matyas tacked on in the second. The loss was the Bears’ first in conference play since SOU stunned them in last year’s opener, 3-0 in Montana, when they again had the NAIA’s No. 9 billing.
Rocky (4-2 overall) had scored 19 goals in its previous four games, including an eight-goal onslaught at then-No. 4 Marymount (Calif.). Against the Raiders’ physical play, it was limited seven shots and only placed one on goal.
SOU (4-2) took charge in the 42nd minute on a play that began with Gonzalo Garcia’s throw-in. His pass found Junior Rivas with a defender on his back near the left corner, and Rivas centered the ball to Magana, who streaked down the middle past two defenders and slid a shot through diving keeper Kristofer Wennin.
Matyas’ dagger, in the 68th minute, was likely the most memorable goal of his career. As Rocky attempted to clear the ball, Matyas stepped in front of a casual pass and found himself with room 30 yards deep. He let a centered shot fly, and it buzzed just inside the right post and beneath the crossbar to make it 2-0.
Magana’s goal was his fifth of the year and the 19th of his career. Matyas, a midfielder, got his first goal since last year and his ninth as a Raider.
The shutout was the Raiders’ third in a row, and the win was their fourth straight. They’ll attempt to extend the streak at 11 a.m. Sunday against The College of Idaho.
Rocky - the preseason favorite to win the title after claiming at least a share of the last three - also hadn’t been a shutout victim since its last meeting with SOU. Wyatt Zabinksi needed to make just one save to secure it.
SOUTHERN OREGON 1, ROCKY MOUNTAIN 0: At Ashland, the Southern Oregon women’s soccer team finally got some revenge against Rocky Mountain (Mont.), opening its Cascade Conference schedule in style with a victory at Raider Stadium.
Picked to finish sixth in the CCC, the Raiders took down last year’s runner-up and a team they hadn’t defeated since Rocky Mountain joined the circuit in 2015. Misty Martinez, a sophomore reserve from Petaluma, Calif., deposited the game-winner with an assist from Brionna Wood.
SOU keeper Kailey Lemon kept the game scoreless with five of her seven saves in the second half, and in the 78th minute Wood won the ball off a Bear to start the decisive play. From deep in the backfield, she initiated a counter and Martinez caught up to her pass about 40 yards away from the goal. She then outran a pair of defenders who were on her trail to create a one-on-one chance against keeper Maia Wetzel, lining a strike right past her from close up.
The Raiders improved to 3-1-1 overall. In successive seasons, the Bears (4-2) had knocked them out of the CCC tournament (2015), defeated them in the final game of the regular season to take away their national tournament spot (‘16), and erased their 3-1 lead for a 4-3 overtime win (‘17).
SOU paid them back by shutting down all-star forward Lauryn Gamache, who had scored four times against the Raiders in the last two seasons. In the latest matchup she was limited to three shots, two of which Lemon saved.
Rocky outshot SOU, 11-8, and four of the Raiders’ shots on goal came from subs - Martinez (2), Cassandra Kohler and Simone Schroder.
Dating back to last season, the Raiders have held 10 consecutive opponents to one or no goals. They’ve also won five consecutive games at home.
They’ll get a shot at another at 1:30 p.m. Sunday against The College of Idaho.
SOUTHERN OREGON 3, WARNER PACIFIC 0: Warner Pacific became the latest victim of a Southern Oregon attacking clinic at Lithia Motors Pavilion.
The No. 10-ranked Raiders’ 13th win without a loss was a 25-16, 25-16, 25-15 dismissal of the Knights, who watched SOU put down 46 kills with 12 errors for a casually exceptional hitting average of .354.
It made the first-place Raiders 6-0 in the Cascade Conference going into another home match at 7 p.m. Saturday against Multnomah. They’re four wins away from matching the cleanest start in team history, having swept through 11 of their opponents.
Sophomore middle Elliott Cook’s hand stayed hot against WPU (2-8, 1-4 CCC) with a season-best 13 kills and 18 swings - her seventh consecutive outing with at least seven. Taylor Ristvedt poured in 11 kills as and the duo dictated every set: Cook had six in the first, Ristvedt had five in the second, and Cook added five more in the third.
The only time the Knights led was when Haley Yoder delivered a kill on the first point of the second frame. They were off the floor in 59 minutes.
Raider setters Natalie James and Hannah Bogatin totaled 24 and 11 assists, respectively, as the Raiders upped their season attacking average to .295, the third-highest in the NAIA. Makayla Hoyt chipped in seven kills on 13 swings and Nila Lukens had six on 12.
With a season-low one block, the Raiders leaned on stellar back-row defense from Emma Ryan (14 digs) and Kiley Barcroft (6).
Yoder’s 10 kills led the Knights, who hit .121 as a team. Outside of her effort, they hit just .024.