Forget the standings, for South Medford girls soccer coach Kendra McMillen, Tuesday’s game against league-leading South Eugene was about something bigger.
“We lost to South Eugene 2-0 (on Sept. 18),” she said, “so for us there wasn’t a standings component. It was more of a redemption game.”
The Panthers got their redemption all right, taking the lead on Whitney Winans’ strike in the 31st minute and holding on for a 1-0 victory to hand the visiting Axe its first Southwest Conference loss of the season at South Medford High School.
Ula Chamberlin began what proved to be the game-winning run by streaking down the field and finding Winans in the box. The senior midfielder took it from there, squeezing a hard-angled shot inside the near post.
The Panthers (6-5, 5-2 SWC), who have won five straight, barely missed on several opportunities to add to their lead, as Talia Hutchins fired a shot off the crossbar in the 35th and Toni Coleman hit the crossbar and the post on two more near misses.
The one-goal lead held up anyway, thanks in part to a sensational late save by South Medford keeper Skylar Farmer, who snuffed out a breakaway with about eight minutes to go by charging the South Eugene striker and forcing an errant shot that sailed high.
The loss was the first since Sept. 11 for South Eugene (4-4-3, 4-1-2).
“I think it makes a huge statement,” said McMillan, whose team has rebounded since a 1-5 start. “When you lose a lot of games, mentally you start to question yourself. We have come together as a team and for me as a coach, I couldn’t be more proud of the girls and how far they’ve come.
“It took a little while to iron out the kinks and I feel like we’ve done that and now we’re a forced to be reckoned with, which is awesome.”
NORTH MEDFORD 0, GRANTS PASS 0: At Grants Pass, Dakota Alewine and Skyler Artale had scoring opportunities but North Medford could not capitalize in the Southwest Conference road match.
The Black Tornado (1-5-4, 1-4-2 SWC) controlled much of the possession and had Grants Pass (6-3-2, 3-3-1) pinned back for much of the match.
Jaida Ross excelled in leading the North Medford defensive line.
PHOENIX 5, KLAMATH UNION 3: At Klamath Falls, Maggie Carrillo was a scoring machine for Phoenix in the Skyline Conference road victory.
The senior forward tallied a hat trick and assisted on another goal to spark the Pirates (4-3-2, 3-2-1 Sky) to a 3-0 halftime lead.
After Klamath Union (2-7, 1-5) pulled to within 3-1 early in the second half, Carrillo answered with an unassisted goal, then Julissa Villasenor volleyed in a cross from Lupita Alegria to complete the Pirates’ scoring.
Phoenix also received a goal from Alex Hernendez on a first-half penalty kick.
ST. MARY’S 9, CASCADE CHRISTIAN 0: Maddie Wheelock needed only 11 minutes to complete a hat trick and added three assists, and Meghan Michels and Emma Bennion also scored three goals each as St. Mary’s remained undefeated in District 5 play at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
Wheelock scored her first goal in the second minute and her third in the 11th for the Crusaders (8-1, 5-0 Dist. 5), who extended their winning streak to eight games.
St. Mary’s led the Challengers 6-0 at halftime.
Michels added two assists and Bennion one.
Cascade Christian (4-7, 2-4) got a standout performance from keeper Audrey Quast, who made six spectacular saves while under assault all game long.
SOUTH EUGENE 3, SOUTH MEDFORD 0: At Eugene, South Eugene remained unbeaten in the Southwest Conference, scoring two-second half goals to pull away.
South Medford dropped to 5-1-3 overall and 3-1-2 in the SWC. The Axe is 9-1-1 and 7-0.
After scoring on a cross in the 20th minute, South Eugene tallied again in the 60th when the ball caromed off a Panthers player and into the net for an own goal.
South Medford goalie Jude Pannell had a strong game, including a save of a penalty kick in the 70th minute. However, an Axe player booted in the deflection for the final margin.
NORTH MEDFORD 2, GRANTS PASS 0: North Medford used nice teamwork to score two second-half goals en route to a shutout victory in Southwest Conference action at North Medford High.
After a scoreless first half, North Medford (5-4-1, 5-1-1 SWC) got on the board three minutes into the second half when Aiden Winters played a ball from the midfield to Sergio Perez Diaz, who found Severine Warren for an 18-yard strike.
North added an insurance goal in the 60th when Ulysses Gomez took a drop pass and found a streaking Caleb Forte, who turned and beat the keeper in the box.
Tornado keeper Junior Garcia held Grants Pass (1-8-1, 1-6 SWC) scoreless.