Adam Pavlich's ankle is fine, as are the Grizzlies, thanks in part to that ankle.
CENTRAL POINT — Adam Pavlich's ankle is fine, as are the Grizzlies, thanks in part to that ankle.
Pavlich scored two first-half goals before being helped off the field in the second half following a vicious slide-tackle.
The 10th-ranked Grizzlies got a third goal eventually, from Pablo Leal, for a 3-0, Southern Sky Conference championship-clinching victory over Crater.
The win earns Ashland (8-5-1, 7-1 SSC) the SSC's top seed to state and a first-round bye. The Grizzlies open the playoffs Nov. 10 against the No. 2 seed from the Mid-Willamette Conference. Currently, that's No. 6-ranked Woodburn (9-2).
"In practice, Brad (Roupp) had been working with us for the entire year on being able to switch the ball because we played too linear and it really paid dividends for us this game," said Pavlich, who walked off the field under his own power after the game and said that his ankle was already feeling better. "Their defense would suck too far over and we would have lanes way over on the other side of the field so once we sent the ball through there it was just a wide-open, one-on-one with the goalie."
Pavlich, a senior forward, took a pass from Ian Murray in the 25th minute, and took a quick dribble to his right. The move created just enough space for Pavlich to snap off a 20-yard laser, which squeezed nicely into the upper right corner of the net.
Four minutes later Pavlich received a pass in the box from Neil Presicci and hammered home another goal to put the Grizzlies ahead 2-0 at the half.
Crater (7-6-1, 4-3 SSC) was fortunate to be that close. The Grizzlies, who avenged a 3-2 loss to Crater on Oct. 10, out-shot the Comets 14-6 in the first half, including 7-4 on goal, and had two shots — a header by Pavlich and a boot by Zane Pindell — ding off the post.
Forced to make up ground in a hurry, the Comets went into attack mode in the second half and nearly cut the lead in half on several occasions — Matt Crowl was wide right on a direct kick from 20 yards away, and Ivan Ramirez was denied at the net by Ashland keeper Noah Sohl.
The Grizzlies put the game away in the 74 minute when Leal cranked home a perfect cross from Diego Harrision.
"This time we had a little bit different game plan within the boys' heads," Roupp said. "The freshmen, the sophomores, the juniors and the seniors all started playing together, and that can take a little while. At the end of the season here, they've all gained mutual respect and were passing the ball to each other. It makes such a difference when you play like that."
Nikki Small had 13 kills and Sam Boehnke added nine kills and two blocks to lead Ashland to a 25-12, 25-9, 25-18 Southern Sky Conference victory over Mazama on Tuesday at Klamath Falls.
Callie McCoy had 34 assists and two aces, and the Grizzlies (7-0 SSC) also received 18 digs and four aces from Ila Sturges and 21 digs and two aces from Piper Cantrell.
Ashland, which has already clinched its fourth straight SSC title, wraps up its regular schedule Thursday at home against Crater.