North Medford senior Caleb Forte, who knows all about fighting back, helped the North Medford boys soccer team do exactly that Saturday, as the Black Tornado overcame deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to beat Roseburg 3-2 and remain undefeated in the Southwest Conference.
Forte, who suffered a season-ending broken leg during his sophomore season, scored North’s first two goals and took a foul in the box that led to the game-winner with five minutes left — a penalty kick by Jordan Higuera.
“(Forte’s) a great player,” said North Medford head coach Michael Belzberg, whose team improved to 3-2, 3-0 in the SWC. “So far two teams have man-marked him. He’s dangerous, and if you forget about him he’ll take advantage of you.”
After Jayden Bangs scored in the 15th minute to give Roseburg (2-4-1, 1-2 SWC) the early lead, Forte scored an equalizer over the keeper from 25 yards out in the 25th.
Roseburg regained the lead in the 55th, but Forte’s free-kick strike from the 18 made it 2-2 with 15 minutes to go.
Ten minutes later, Forte was tackled in the box and Higuera did the honors, firing a shot into the back of the net that Roseburg’s keeper couldn’t touch.
“We keep telling the guys two things,” Belzberg said. “First, team is everything. Team, team, team — what can we do for each other. And the other thing is perseverance, and today the perseverance really showed.”
The win set up a big Southwest Conference clash Tuesday with powerhouse South Eugene, which is also undefeated (2-0) in league play.
“It’s probably the game of the week,” Belzberg said. “South Eugene is so good every year, but last year we tied them 1-1. So we can do it, but we’re going to need all the horses and all the men.”
ASHLAND 2, WILLAMETTE 0: At Eugene, Ashland looked to a pair of underclassmen to help pull out a Midwestern League road win.
Sophomore Noah Aguilar scored on a low, hard shot that bounced in off the post in the 23rd minute and, one minute later, freshman Davidson Graham beat the goalie to the ball on a scramble in the box to make it 2-0.
The Grizzlies (3-2-1, 2-0 MWL) were led on defense by Sequoia Jacobson, Milan Pyle and Rio Giancarlo.
EAGLE POINT 3, NORTH BEND 0: At North Bend, junior midfielder Martin Hernandez had a hat trick, notching his third and final goal of the day by stealing the ball in the backfield and beating the keeper from 18 yards out to help the Eagles pick up their first Midwestern League win of the season.
Hernandez didn’t waste any time getting started, scoring in the opening minute off a nice cross by Isaiah Lundberg to give the Eagles (4-1-1, 1-0-1 MWL) the quick lead.
In the 39th, Hernandez took a through ball from Alex Rodriguez and beat the keeper one-on-one.
Eagle Point’s defense also played well, particularly Elvis Cisneros.
North Bend fell to 2-5, 0-2 in the MWL.
CHURCHILL 9, CRATER 0: Churchill jumped out to a 4-0 halftime lead and cruised from there in the MWL blowout.
The loss dropped the Comets to 2-5 overall, 0-2 in league play. Churchill, which was playing its MWL opener, earned its fourth win in a row and improved to 4-0-2.
ST. MARY’S 9, ILLINOIS VALLEY 0: Andrew Rietmann, Milan Bobek, William Kranenburg and Andrew Michels scored two goals apiece as St. Mary’s had its way in the District 5 game despite using only eight players in an effort to keep the final score respectable.
Preston Jernigan added a goal and an assist for the Crusaders (5-0-1, 5-0 Dist. 5), who have won five straight since a season-opening tie against Catlin Gabel.
St. Mary’s led Illinois Valley (0-4-1, 0-4-1) 6-0 at halftime.
Michels’ goals both were headers.
ROGUE RIVER 4, PAISLEY 2: At Rogue River, Sebastian Poston scored twice, including once in a second half that saw the Chieftains outscore Paisley 3-0 to overcome a 2-1 halftime deficit.
Poston scored in the 27th minute off an assist by Garren Decker, then notched the unassisted clincher in the 68th.
Also for Rogue River (4-2, 3-2 Dist. 5), Simeon Poston scored in the 52nd and Decker hammered home a penalty kick in the 63rd.