The Rogue Valley Timbers 99G Red had a numbers advantage, plenty of motivation and more than enough talent to make it just a matter of time before they broke through Monday in the Girls U19 Cascade bracket championship of the Rogue Memorial Challenge at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
South Medford High senior Liz Beattie kept that time to a minimum in a revenge match against FCSC Nemesis 98 White of Camas, Washington, scoring just 10 minutes into the contest to help set the tone for a well-deserved celebratory moment for the local girls as they capped their season with a 4-1 triumph.
On Sunday, it was Nemesis that came out on top after tallying the game-winner in a 1-0 tilt with 10 minutes left in regulation to finish first in pool play.
On Monday, the runner-up RVT squad wasn’t about to let that happen again.
“Yesterday when we lost 1-0 it was kind of an eye-opener because we normally come into this tournament just having fun and having a good time,” said North Medford High senior Meghan Cowan. “When this team showed up and they were able to put one away on us we kind of were just ready to go and fired up for today’s game so we started off fast and strong.”
It was every bit of that and more as the local girls routinely took advantage of their depth against a Nemesis squad that had one substitute player for the tournament but lost that Monday and played the bulk of the championship game with 10 players.
“They’re a very good team,” said FCSC Nemesis 98 White coach Feike Postma. “They pass the ball really well and we ended up having to play with 10 players for 80 percent of the time and obviously that kind of broke us up.”
“I knew it was going to be a tough game,” added Postma. “When we played them the first time we ended up 1-0 but it was one of those games where it could have ended up in a tie or ended up either way, so hat’s off to them for how well they played today.”
With the back line of Cowan, Michala Denn (North Medford senior) and Maddie Wheelock (St. Mary’s sophomore) holding a steady line, 99G Red was able to control possession early and struck first in innocent fashion. South Medford’s Whitney Winans found an opening on the left side of the box and flicked the ball to Beattie in the middle, where she instantly stepped into a low liner that crept into the near corner of the net ahead of Nemesis goalkeeper Megan Sawyer.
“We’ve kind of struggled to score all weekend,” said 99G Red coach Kevin Primerano. “We’ve been really dominant in our play but we’ve had some trouble putting the ball away. To get that early goal gave us some confidence and I think it broke the other side a little bit and allowed us to really launch ourselves toward a championship.”
The only true threat to the outcome came 15 minutes later when there was a slight breakdown on defense and Nemesis midfielder Morgan Winston stole the ball and quickly found teammate Angelina Krawczyk across the box for a prime scoring opportunity that was ultimately negated when 99G Red goalkeeper Kaitlyn Weber (South Medford senior) charged off her line and sprawled to block Krawczyk’s shot.
“We haven’t had a lot of goals scored on us this year,” noted Primerano, “and Kaitlyn Weber, when she’s been tested, she’s come up huge almost every time.”
If that wasn’t disheartening enough for the visitors, the true backbreaker came in the waning seconds of the first half when South Medford’s Hayle Mehl went all out for a 50-50 ball leading toward the Nemesis box and was taken down after gaining possession to secure a penalty kick for her team.
“Kudos to Hayle Mehl for getting on the end of that and not giving up on the ball because that was just all effort,” said Primerano.
That set the stage for Cowan, who stepped in to take the penalty kick and calmly deposited her shot into the back of the net for a 2-0 advantage just prior to the stoppage whistle.
“I totally give that all to her,” Cowan said in giving due credit to Mehl. “She worked so hard to get to that ball and I’m just thankful that I could be a part of it.”
Still, plenty of players may have not been as capable of Cowan in capitalizing on the opportunity, and she was granted all the faith in the world from her coach and teammates to make it happen.
“Meghan Cowan is the most confident player I’ve ever met,” said Primerano. “All the way back to our U11 year with her, she is not afraid to step up and strike the ball for a penalty kick.”
While that strike only made it a two-goal game, it may have been twice as much for Nemesis, which was slowly losing steam given the short-handed conditions in a wide-open first half.
“What killed us is giving up that second goal right before the half,” said Postma. “If you go into halftime 1-0, everybody still has the nerves and you can play, but you give up that second goal right before halftime, that’s kind of a killer ... especially when you’re playing a man down. Kudos to my girls, they gave it all they’ve got, and at the end of the day that’s all you can do.”
The RVT squad kept up the pressure in the second half, breaking through for a third time when South Medford’s Baylee Smith stole the ball deep in her own territory and carried up the right sideline in the 57th minute. Smith found teammate Kylee Dillon (Grants Pass/Cascade Christian) on the near side of the box and, after a soft touch, Dillon wheeled around to find Mehl, who scored from close range to make it 3-0.
A few more scoring opportunities popped up for 99G Red’s second unit before South Medford’s Madilyn Pineda was taken down to earn a free kick from 35 yards out that she deposited over the outstretched arms of Sawyer for a 4-0 ledger in the 69th minute.
“The beauty of this team and what worked to our advantage throughout this weekend is our depth,” said Primerano. “We don’t have a single starting lineup, we have 18 kids who can start on this team and not miss a beat and it’s really been a pleasure and a blessing to have that luxury.”
Likely a little thrown by the excitement of the long-range tally by Pineda, 99G Red wasn’t the picture of focus on the ensuing attack by Nemesis, allowing Sabine Postma to find a seam in the defense to assist Ellie Echeverio for a goal in the game’s final moment.
While a clean sheet would have been nice, it was hardly a concern for the RVT girls as they leaped in celebration following the final whistle.
“I’ve been with some of these seniors for six or seven of these tournaments so it’s great to cap it off with a win,” said Cowan.
That went double for the squad given their most recent venture, when 99G Red was ousted from the State Cup in the semifinals a few weeks ago.
“We felt this was a state championship caliber team this year and we got knocked out in the semifinals,” said Primerano. “There was kind of an empty feeling in our stomach and after we lost the game yesterday, this was a little bit of vengeance, especially for our seniors to go out on top.”
U10 — Cascade Playoffs: ASC Avengers 4, Humboldt Fire 07 3; SSSC Jaguars 07 5, Humboldt Breakers BU10 4. Sierra Playoffs: SOSA The Black Knights 6, RVT 07B Red 3; RVT 07B White 2, URU Fighting Eagles 1. Siskiyou Playoffs: GPYSC 07B BLUE 3, GPYSC 07B WHITE 2; Corning Warriors 2, Corning NCU Corning FC 1.
U11 — 1st-2nd Playoffs: ETFC 06B Bayern Black 8, ETFC 06B Bayern Red 0; Corning Chelsea 4, RVT 06B Red 3. 3rd-4th Playoffs: WAFC Cachorros 7, RVT 06B White 4; RVT 06B Black 6, MUFC Mutiny 4.
U12 — Cascade Cascade Playoffs: TRSC 05B Reign 3, Basin Real Barca 2; Basin Elite FC 4, URU Eagles 0. Siskiyou Siskiyou Playoffs: Corning Cobras 2, CP All Stars 1; SOSA Crossfire 4, Humboldt Breakers BU12 3.
U13 — Playoffs: RVT 05B United 4, GPYSC Rebels White 0; Corning Revolucion 3, Humboldt Fire 1.
U14 — Cascade Cascade Playoffs: RVT 03B RED 6, NSS United 03 1; Brookings United 2, Epuerto U14 0. Siskiyou Siskiyou Playoffs: Corning Arsenal 4, RVT 03B White 0; GPYSC Savages 5, Mt. Shasta Bears 2.
U15 — Playoffs: URU Eagles B02 7, SOSA Pirates 0; GPYSC Rebels U15B 2, ASC Shockwave 0.
U16 — Playoffs: Heritage Soccer 01B 1, RVT 01B Red 0; San Juan Nevada 01 2, AC United Los Toros 0.
U17 — Playoffs: FC Santos 1, NSS Kaos Rampage 0; RVT 00B Red 2, Basin Pumas 1.
U19 — Cascade Cascade Playoffs: Cascade Rush Steelheaders 3, SOSA Notorious 0; RVT 98B Adrenaline 4, NSS United 98 0. Siskiyou Siskiyou Playoffs: RVT 98B Red 1, Basin Lightning 0; GPYSC Adrenaline 3, Epuerto BU18 2.
U10 — Playoffs: GC United 3, SOSA Dark Night 2; GPYSC White Rebels 2, RVT 07G Red 1.
U11 — 1st-2nd Playoffs: Players 06 CD 2, RVT 06G White 0; RVT 06G Red 1, SSSC Lady Jags 0. 3rd-4th Playoffs: AC Samoa 06 1, GPYSC Rush 0; ETFC Arsenal Red 4, ASC Shooting Stars 0.
U12 — Cascade Cascade Playoffs: RVT 05G Red 4, URU Lady Seahawks 2; ETFC 05 Chelsea Black 2, ASC Galaxy 0. Siskiyou 1st-2nd Playoffs: Basin Fusion 6, Corning NCU FURY 0; NSS Missfits Shockers 2, Players 05 CD 1. Siskiyou 3rd-4th Playoffs: RVT 05G White 5, RVT 05G Black 4; Reno Breakers U12G 4, GBYSL Wolves 1.
U13 — 1st-2nd Playoffs: NSS Missfits Moxie 04 4, AC Samoa 04 Girls 0; CFC U13 Plechl 2, ETFC GU13 Akers Black 0. 3rd-4th Playoffs: GPYSC Rebels 1, Basin Fury 0; Sagebrush Lady Nomads 2, RVT 04G White 0.
U14 — Cascade Cascade Playoffs: RVT 03G Red 1, Reno Breakers U14G 0; WAFC Storm 3, Bend 2003 Girls White 1. Siskiyou Siskiyou Playoffs: RVT 03G White 2, San Juan 2004 Girls 1; Mt. Shasta Weed United 1, ASC Crossfire 03G 0.
U15 — Playoffs: NSS Mavericks, AC Samoa 02 Girls 0; GPYSC Evolution 1, Reno Breakers U15G 0.
U16 — Playoffs: NSS Missfits Phoenix 01 2, Sagebrush Sporting Carson Valley 0; RVT 01G Red 1, GPYSC Bulldogs 0.
U17 — Playoffs: GPYSC Crush 3, NSS Renegades 1; 4-H Bayern Munich 1, WVYSL Panthers 0.
U19 — Cascade Cascade Playoffs: AC Samoa U-19 2, Great Basin Nevada Pride 0; RVT 99G Red 4, FCSC Nemesis 98 White 1. Sierra Sierra Playoffs: Cascade Rush Elites 6, SOSA Lady Pirates 5; Umpqua Roseburg 2, Corning Elite 1. Siskiyou Siskiyou Playoffs: NSS MissFits Fusion 3, GPYSC United 1; Basin HS 3, Mad River Lightning 1.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry