He had seen the game film, and he knows his team. So, before the opening whistle, Ashland head coach Brad Roupp sat down with his speedy senior forward, Simon Linsday, and delivered the ultimate green light.
"Simon," Roupp said, "of all the games that we've played all year, this is your game."
Was it ever.
Recap: Simon Linsday scored three goals and Nate Roupp added a goal and an assist as the Grizzlies advanced to the state quarterfinals for the fourth time in five years.
Next up: Ashland at North Eugene, Saturday.
Linsday scored three goals in the first 46 minutes and the Grizzlies' defense crafted another shutout as Ashland throttled Madras 5-0 in the second round of the OSAA Class 5A state playoffs Tuesday at Ashland Middle School.
The resounding victory advances third-ranked Ashland (13-1-1) to the state quarterfinals for the fourth time in five years; it will face North Eugene (11-4-1) on Saturday in Eugene. The unranked Highlanders, the No. 2 seed out of the Midwestern League, advanced with a 3-0 victory over Madison.
The Grizzlies peppered Madras goalkeeper Joel Urieta from the opening whistle, but didn't get on the board until the 27th minute, when Nate Roupp's 30-yard boot was deflected by the diving Urieta. Linsday streaked in for the follow, a left-footed laser that curled just inside the far post.
Seven minutes later Linsday and Roupp teamed up again. This time, both chased down a pass from Ian Murray behind the defense and appeared to kick the ball simultaneously as Urieta charged. Linsday was credited with the goal.
In the second half, Linsday completed the hat trick, scoring his 11th goal of the season off another perfect through ball from Murray.
After the onslaught, Linsday said the White Buffaloes' defense played right into the Grizzlies' hands.
"When a team plays a flat four, it's hard to mark up a quick forward because you can just send through balls through that, and our team just reads those so perfectly," he said. "We have an amazing midfield that reads defense like that. If you send a through ball to a quick forward, its bound to happen, and I put away all three so that was pretty sweet."
Brad Roupp also anticipated Ashland's offensive explosion.
"They [Madras] play flat across the field with their backs trying to get us to be offsides," he said. "We worked all week on beating that and early in the game I just saw that there were too many holes in their defense.
"Although Simon got the goals it was a lot of good team work. We worked on beating the flat four this week knowing that they were going to play it and our backs and our midfielders set such beautiful balls up for those guys to run up on. It took a team, a group of players to create those goals."
The onslaught continued throughout the second half. In the 62nd minute, Nate Roupp found himself wide open in front of the goal, but passed off to Reed Chasmar for an even easier shot and a 4-0 lead.
Roupp, a senior halfback, completed the scoring eight minutes later, taking a pass by senior fullback Derek Owens-Oas and punching it home.
Ashland dominated the possession battle from beginning to end, outshooting the White Buffaloes 27-8, including 19-4 in shots on goal.
"Ashland's a great team," said Madras head coach Paul Brown, whose team finished 8-3-5. "They passed the ball really, really well, and they're going to go a long way in the playoffs."
"We were the aggressors today," Brad Roupp said. "We just didn't allow them time with the ball. When we have the ball they can't do much on offense, and that was our goal."
Entering the game as a major underdog, the White Buffaloes nearly shocked the Grizzlies, the Southern Sky Conference champions, early on but were turned away by a little bad luck plus Ashland keeper Wes Overland.
In the 21st minute, a Madras corner kick led to a shot and a deflection, with the ball coming to a stop just a few feet in front of the goal. Madras' Ethan Adams got off a hard shot, but it bounced off an Ashland defender and straight back toward mid field.
Five minutes later, White Buffaloes' junior forward Turner Gill corralled a high pass 30 yards in front of the right post and fired a rocket. Overland, displaying the athleticism that has helped the Grizzlies earn eight shutouts in their last nine games, made a leaping save to keep the game scoreless.
"I thought he was going to my right, far post, and he tried to curl it upper V, so I had to change my position," Overland said. "It was kind of an awkward dive, but as a goalie you have to react to those.
"Some of those plays that they didn't score on, if they would have scored it could have changed the game a lot. Tremendously, probably."
Linsday scored the game's first goal less than a minute after that save, and the rout was on.
Though Ashland put the game away early in the second half, Linsday said it was important that the Grizzlies didn't let up.
"There's not very many teams that allow five goals or even score that much in the playoffs," he said. "Five's definitely a statement, and we're here to stay."
Sports editor Joe Zavala can be reached at 482-3456 x 224 or firstname.lastname@example.org