Sarah Chambers of North Medford gets tripped up near the sideline by Grants Pass' Hannah Romick in the second half of their Southern Oregon Hybrid girls socccer match Saturday at Hoffbuhr Field. The Black Tornado triumphed, 3-1.

Black Tornado captures title

As the flames from their campfire danced in front of them, Sarah Chambers and her teammates sat on a beach in Brookings two months ago and dreamed aloud.

"We were all in our little chairs around the campfire on this team bonding trip saying what all our goals were, and winning a conference title was one of them," the North Medford junior said.

The players' wishes came true in their regular season finale on Saturday.

Becca Allen, Amber Black and Chambers all netted goals as North defeated Grants Pass, 3-1, to earn its 10th straight victory and clinch the Southern Oregon Hybrid girls soccer championship at windy Hoffbuhr Field.

The Cavers needed to win on Saturday and then beat South Medford on Tuesday to share the conference crown with the Black Tornado. Grants Pass would have also received the conference's top seed had that scenario unfolded because the Cavers swept Roseburg — which also owns a 4-3 record in conference play — during the regular season.

The Indians travel to Crater on Tuesday.

North (10-2-1, 7-1 SOH) finished fourth in the league standings in 2009 and was first in 2008. After losing to Roseburg on Sept. 18 this fall, North did not drop another game.

"They've been working really hard every week, every game, no matter the situation, no matter what, they have been coming out on top and that is their character this year," North head coach Rich Garcia said. "They just don't give up and they play good. I am excited, I am happy."

All the Black Tornado's goals came in the first half against Grants Pass.

Allen scored the first goal of the contest seven minutes into the match when the junior midfielder found herself in the right spot at the right time. After one of Allen's teammates attempted a shot, Grants Pass' goalkeeper committed to the save. Allen corralled the ball and eased the shot into the right corner of the net.

Keeli Morse and the Cavers responded in the 15th minute, when Sydney Lawless' 40-yard free kick played off Katheryn Hostkoetter's head and dropped near Morse. The sophomore forward finished off the play and tied the game at 1.

Chambers and Presley Voris collided in the 30th minute, earning North a free kick that it would cash in on. Michelle Benitez booted the ball over the Grants Pass defense and toward Chambers, who headed it in.

Alex Ebert's cross to Chambers led to a give-and-go between the center midfielder and Black with 1:02 remaining in the first half. Black tapped the ball in to give the Black Tornado its 3-1 advantage.

"Honestly the first half, I think the elements played a big factor," Grants Pass head coach Hector Cruz said. "The wind was at their back and the goals were really slippery in that first one. But (North Medford) brought it on senior day."

Neither team was willing to give up much.

"When our offense plays well and our defense plays well, when all that happens, it turns out to be a great game," Chambers said.

Garcia added that his team did a fine job of maintaining possession, clearing out the ball and defending.

Senior stopper Nancy Ibarra, whom Garcia praised for her efforts, called the accomplishment inspirational.

"We imagined we are going do it this year, and we accomplished it," she said. "It just tells us that when we put our minds to something, we can accomplish it."

For those two days in August on the beach, the team grew closer, Chambers said. The time they've spent together, she added, made Saturday's success that much sweeter.

"It is good to just see it happening how we wanted it," Chambers said. "It was great."

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or e-mail

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