South Medford's Kodie Artner, left, and North Medford's Christian Siordia fight for the ball during Tuesday's match. - Andy Atkinson

Panthers lock down Tornado

It was bloodied and bruised, but Kodie Artner's left knee was fully operational Tuesday night.

And as important as his wheels were, the South Medford senior forward's head proved most important against North Medford in a wild, tense and dramatic showdown of cross-town rivals and undefeated Southern Oregon Hybrid boys soccer teams.

Artner, who missed both matches against the Black Tornado along with most of the 2010 season with a tibial plateau fracture and torn meniscus in the aforementioned knee, headed in the game-winning goal in the 21st minute to give the Panthers an emotional 1-0 triumph.

Last season, North won 2-0 in the two schools' first meeting and finished in a scoreless tie in the second contest.

And in front of a robust crowd at Spiegelberg Stadium, Artner and the boys in blue stole the show.

"It feels really good to get back there and play, especially on this big of a stage," Artner said.

The victory was a sweet one for Artner and his teammates, who kept North out of rhythm early and in desperate need of a response late.

On South's scoring drive, freshman midfielder Uriel Cordoba — who had just recently substituted into the match for Jose Cabrera — sent a cross from about 15 yards out in the right corner toward the goal, and Artner completed things with his miss-if-you-blink header.

The Panthers' defense made sure North's opportunities started and ended quickly after that, walling off and clamping down on some of the Black Tornado's most dangerous threats.

South senior central defenders Eddie Tovar and Jack Delaney proved key in the denial, keeping close tabs on North scoring standout Jesus Solorio. Additionally, Greg Alegria and Nick Healy, a pair of versatile players for South (4-1-2, 3-0 SOH), were quick to drop back with assistance and chip in fine defensive efforts to keep the Black Tornado off the scoreboard.

"(Solorio) is one who will always make something out of nothing and at any given moment he can give you problems, but Jack and Eddie were equal to the task tonight," South head coach Dave Kaufman said.

Solorio and teammate Edgar Lizardo had some chances, hooking up on a few crosses and sending hard-kicked attempts that went astray.

Added Delaney of the defense: "Definitely (Solorio) did some damage on us last year. This year going in, we knew he is one of their go-to offensive players. If we could stop him then we could put a real dent in their offensive game."

For North (4-2, 2-1 SOH), center defender Bryan Carbonell turned in an applaudable effort, marking Artner tough for most of the night.

With about 10 minutes left in the match, Benito Torres and South goalkeeper Mitch North collided during a Black Tornado strike. The two went down in a short but scary moment. A foul was called on the striker, giving South possession, but North was forced to leave for a play because Kaufman entered onto the field, which is against OSAA rules.

Afterward, one of the officials said Kaufman should have asked permission. Kaufman said he was concerned about the health of both players.

In the end, the moment of confusion and controversy had little bearing on the final outcome.

North head coach Dan Torrey, in his second year, praised South afterward.

"South really got us out of our type of game," Torrey said, "and made us change our tactic a little bit. They played very well and I've got to give all the credit to South."

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email

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