Courtney Randall celebrates Friday after scoring a goal against Warner Pacific in the team’s first home game of the season. The Mountaineers ended a 10-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over their Cascade Conference rivals. BRAD MOSHER - The Observer
Coach Jen Simonetti had a grin on her face Friday.
The first-year coach of the Eastern Oregon University women’s soccer team had just watched her squad win its first Cascade Conference game of the season.
The 3-2 victory over visiting Warner Pacific was also the team’s first win of the season.
The win improved the Lady Mountaineers to 1-3 in Cascade play, just before Sunday’s showdown with undefeated Concordia.
“They played awesome,” the Eastern coach said. “That was the kind of win they needed.”
The Mountaineers are not that far out of the playoff chase in the Cascade, Simonetti added. “It’s time to start anew and there still is plenty of time.”
The loss dropped the Warner Pacific team into the conference basement, but it wasn’t because the team gave up.
Warner Pacific started the scoring at the 21:55 mark in the first half on a goal by Mollee Klinkhammer off a rebound from the post in the corner.
The visitors held the lead for most of the first half, until Eastern Oregon’s Courtney Randall hit the net with a tight shot in front of Warner goalkeeper Linzee Felder with just 4:08 left.
Mounties score quickly
In the second half, the Mountaineers opened up a 3-1 lead within a three-minute span on goals by Kaelina Devera and Quincy Moore.
The two goals came just two minutes and 12 seconds apart.
Still, the Lady Knights, made a comeback late in the game, adding a score in the 87th minute, but the visitors couldn’t get another shot to tie the game before time expired.
According to assistant coach Julio Loza, the Lady Knights just ran out of time. “We were fortunate to get a goal late, but we didn’t have enough time to take advantage of the momentum.”
Loza praised the Mountaineers. “We had 11 players trying to battle, but Eastern seemed to battle a little more. We need to start strong and keep the momentum all the way.”
Simonetti also praised her team for their strong team play. “They seriously played as a team Friday. They finally did what they have been doing in practice for weeks.”
The Mounties had a 15-4 edge in shots on goal during the game.
Concordia leads Cascade
After Friday’s games, Concordia was still undefeated (4-0), just a half-game ahead of Oregon Tech (4-1), both with 12 points in conference play. Northwest has a 3-1-1 record and 10 points in third.
There are four teams with two losses — Corban and Northwest Christian with 3-2, followed by Southern Oregon (2-2-1) and College of Idaho (2-2).
Eastern Oregon is within a game of the battle for the final conference playoff spot.
In other conference action, Alicia Alarcon-Evans collected a loose ball in the box with less than four minutes remaining in the second overtime and slotted home the game-winner, as No. 1 ranked Concordia survived The College of Idaho, 1-0, Friday at Simplot Stadium.
The Cavaliers (10-0-2, 4-0 CCC) remained the lone unbeaten team in the Cascade Conference, but had to withstand an outstanding defensive effort by the host Coyotes - needing a pair of team saves in the second half to earn the result.
The Lady Yotes (3-5-1, 2-2) nearly won it in the 103rd minute, as Brittney Lacey made a run down the right, chipping a ball into the area. The ball was redirected to Kayla Bigelow, who cracked a ball to the left corner of the net, cleared off the line by Lauryn Helmers- right to the foot of Jessica Ayala, who one-timed a shot to the same corner — again cleared away by Helmers.
In the 107th minute, the Cavs served a long ball to the top of the 18, with the ball bouncing over the head of C of I keeper Melissa Holmes-Joseph. After a scramble, Alarcon-Evans found just enough space to slot the ball into the open net for the winner.
CU held a 26-6 edge in shots, but only nine were on frame. Annika Hayman had a chance on a header in the 55th minute, but missed high, while McKayla Madison cracked a header in the 59th minute off a corner, missing just high. The Cavs nearly won it in the 93rd minute, as Ashley Ames rocketed a blast from 25 yards out off the crossbar, with Holmes-Joseph clearing the ball in a scrum.
The C of I had their best chance in the first half, as Lacey played a 40-yard free kick into the box, finding the head of Sydney Woods — but Tori Talbutt made the save.
Holmes-Joseph had seven saves in the loss for the Yotes, while Talbutt recorded her fourth-straight shutout, making two saves.
In other Cascade action Friday, Corban needed an overtime to claim a 1-0 win over Southern Oregon and Northwest pounded Evergreen by a 4-0 score.