MERLIN — Before their Skyline Conference boys soccer match, coaches Tom Erickson of North Valley and Dennis Flenner of Phoenix jokingly agreed not to let this game go into a shootout.
They'd done so a couple times in recent history, with North Valley prevailing.
But on Tuesday, it was more of the same, with the Knights getting a penalty kick from their sixth shooter, sophomore right outside midfielder Josh Cowell, for a 1-0 win in the conference opener.
The teams were scoreless through 80 regulation minutes and 20 overtime minutes. In the shootout, five players from each side took penalty kicks, and three from each scored.
For Phoenix, Luis Rocha, Jose Macias and David Espana made good, as did North Valley's Cody Goins, Isaiah McLittle and Matt Knitter.
The shootout then turned to sudden death. Phoenix's first try by Manuel Basse sailed over the goal, and Cowell drove his shot low and hard to the right of goalie Roberto Cook.
"Josh is a real good player," said Erickson, whose team practiced its penalty kicks the day before. "He's got a good, hard shot, and we were very confident."
He praised freshman goalie Ryan Clarkin, who made 23 saves in regulation and overtime, then two in the shootout.
Phoenix (2-2) was ranked No. 1 in the OSAA power rankings for 4A entering the match.
"It was a huge dogfight," said Erickson, whose team improved to 3-1-1 overall. "They're the defending Skyline champions, and you're not the man until you beat the man. They had their chances, we had our chances, it was something to see."
Flenner credited Cook for an outstanding game, particularly in the shootout.
"He kept us in it," said Flenner.
He also hailed the play of sweeper Mario Esqueda.
The Pirates outshot the Knights 12-6 and had seven corner kicks to three for North Valley.
- HIDDEN VALLEY 3, MAZAMA 1 — At Klamath Falls, Cody Jones had a pair of goals to spark Hidden Valley, which led 2-0 at halftime and held on for the Skyline Conference victory.
- ROSEBURG 4, GRANTS PASS 3 — At Roseburg, Luke Hammer had two goals and an assist to lead undefeated Roseburg (6-0, 4-0 Southern Oregon Hybrid).
Taylor Griggs recorded two goals for Grants Pass (2-3-1, 1-2 SOH).
ASHLAND 9, CRATER 0 — At Ashland, senior Chris Landt notched a hat trick and Imani Sharpe and Leland Sanchez added two goals each in the nonconference match at Ashland Middle School.
Landt opened the scoring with a header in the eighth minute off a corner kick by Ian Murray.
Dylan Fisher scored two minutes later and the Grizzles (5-1) built a 4-0 halftime lead.
Murray also had a goal for the Grizzlies.
ST. MARY'S 13, HOSANNA CHRISTIAN 0 — Pancho Acuna-Miranda scored four goals and assisted on two others as St. Mary's opened District 3 play at home.
The Crusaders (3-2-1 overall) led 7-0 at halftime and got goals from nine players.
Reid Arne had two goals and two assists, and Garrett Coughlin scored a goal and had a team-high three assists.
Other scores were by Juan Becerra-Felix, Noah Kotler, Andy Piper, Harrison Leep, Michael Gambee and Adlar Thomas.
UMPQUA VALLEY CHRISTIAN 4, ILLINOIS VALLEY 3 — At Roseburg, Illinois Valley jumped out to a 2-0 lead but Umpqua Valley Christian scored four goals in the final 10 minutes of the opening half.
Jovany Sanchez, a sophomore forward, tallied all three goals for Illinois Valley (1-5, 0-1 Dist. 3).
Keith Lee registered a hat trick for Umpqua Valley Christian (3-1, 1-0 Dist. 3).