North Medford girls claim SWC championship

EUGENE — The underdog role suited Lu Crenshaw and the North Medford girls soccer team just fine.

The Black Tornado clinched its first conference title since 2005 on Tuesday, defeating preseason favorite Sheldon 1-0 and relegating the Irish to second place in the Southwest Conference.

"We were the only people that thought we were going to win the conference," said Crenshaw, North's third-year coach. "I enjoy the lack of expectations that people have with these girls. Every year, we come in and no one expects much from us, but we rise to the occasion."

The win, the second this season against Sheldon (10-4, 7-3 SWC), is especially satisfying given North (8-4-1, 7-2-1) took second in the SWC in Crenshaw's first two seasons, including a year ago when a late-season, 2-0 loss to Sheldon kept the conference title in the hands of the Irish.

"This was great for the seniors, great as a coach," Crenshaw said. "I knew the girls had it in them. It feels very good."

Senior Jessica Reid scored on a penalty kick in the 29th minute after freshman forward Sarah Chambers was tackled in the box. The score stood after another stellar defensive effort from North Medford junior goalkeeper Kendra McMillen, who had four saves and denied Sheldon on multiple 50-50 opportunities by aggressively releasing off the goal line.

The shutout is her sixth of the season.

"She was absolutely phenomenal," Crenshaw said of McMillen. "I told her before the game, she has to play well for us to win. Hands down, she showed that she is without a doubt the best goalie in the conference and one of the best in the state."

Crenshaw also credited the play of sweeper Alex Kummer.

"They are very predictable," Crenshaw says of Sheldon. "We were ready for the long ball."

North outshot Sheldon 7-4 and has won three straight after enduring a rough stretch earlier in the season that saw the Black Tornado lose matches to fifth-place Grants Pass and South Medford and tie South Eugene.

Those matches were sandwiched between a critical 2-1 overtime win over Sheldon.

"We had a couple of bumps in the road," Crenshaw said. "But those things make you stronger. We are heading into the playoffs getting better every single day."

SOUTH MEDFORD 2, ROSEBURG 0 — South Medford turned in another strong defensive performance and broke a scoreless halftime tie with goals by Rebecca Viets and Rebecca Nisbet at Spiegelberg Stadium.

The Panther defense, spearheaded by juniors Ali Kelly, Haley Hess and Mariah Winstead, was key in limiting Roseburg to just one shot on goal.

Viets, a senior, took a pass from Lindsay Wright and boomed a low, opposite-corner shot into the net in the 64th minute.

Then Nisbet, a junior forward, converted four minutes later from 20 yards out after receiving a through ball from Anna Sours.

South Medford (8-5-1, 7-3 SWC) finished tied for second in the conference standings with Sheldon but will enter the Class 6A state playoffs as the league's No. 3 seed due to two losses to the Irish.

SOUTH EUGENE 1, GRANTS PASS 0 OT — At Grants Pass, Allie Nutting scored in the 96th minute to help South Eugene clinch the fourth seed out of the Southwest Conference.


NORTH MEDFORD 6, SHELDON 1 — Dustin Torrey and Dylan Schwarm each scored two goals for North Medford, which received a little help to slip into the Southwest Conference's final playoff spot, at Hoffbuhr Field.

Because South Eugene topped Grants Pass, the Black Tornado (4-8-1, 3-7 SWC) beat out the Cavemen for the conference's fourth spot.

After assisting on North's first goal in the 27th minute, Torrey took it in himself three minutes later, which led to North's 2-1 halftime lead.

Torrey scored again in the 46th minute, then came Schwarm's back-to-back goals in the 47th and 60th minutes — he headed in the second goal off Waldo Calvillo's corner kick.

Tornado goalkeeper Ryan Nicholson logged three saves.

ROSEBURG 3, SOUTH MEDFORD 2 — At Roseburg, Roseburg spoiled South Medford's perfect season in the Southwest Conference with two second-half goals.

The Panthers (11-2-1, 9-1 SWC) will open the state playoffs against the No. 4 team from the Central Valley Conference on Nov. 1 at Spiegelberg Stadium.

The Panthers led 2-1 until Steven Strickland's penalty kick tied the score in the 60th minute. Five minutes later, Brady Sherriff linked up with Aaron Funderburk, who punched in the winning goal.

Brian Avila scored in the fifth minute for the Panthers and Matt Mendoza gave South a 2-1 edge on a pass from Matt North in the 50th minute.

Sherriff also assisted on Josh Malone's goal in the ninth minute.

SOUTH EUGENE 2, GRANTS PASS 0 — At Eugene, South Eugene led 1-0 at halftime on an Alex Baker goal in the 23rd minute off an assist from Connor Jones.

The Axemen scored on a counter in the final minute by Ethan Farina.

Senior midfielders Jordan Van Delden and Mickey Allapach paced an inspired effort by Grants Pass (3-10-1, 2-7-1 SWC).

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