Eric Wolff would have preferred for one of Ashland’s near misses to find its mark, but considering the opponent Ashland High's girls soccer coach can live with the scoreless tie.
The Grizzlies just missed a chance to break through with about 10 minutes to go but had to settle for a 0-0 draw against traditional state powerhouse Bend on Friday under the lights at Walter A. Phillips Field.
Junior Raisa Rich nearly cashed in on what proved to be the Grizzlies’ best chance after beating a defender and firing a shot from the top of the box in about the 70th minute, but the ball curled off frame at the last moment.
“That was a great, close battle,” Wolff said. “There was enough good opportunities and back-and-forth chances. It’s a fair result.”
The nonleague tie snapped Ashland’s three-game winning streak to open the season, while Bend — a program which advanced to five state championship games between 2006 and 2014 — moved to 2-0-1.
Wolff said most of the game was played near the middle of the field, although Bend finished with 11 shots on goal to Ashland’s four. Ashland senior keeper Taylor Buckley came through with those 11 saves, including a clutch block in the first half that negated a Bend breakaway.
“Bend’s a high-quality program so for us to play an even match …obviously we would have loved to win, but losing wouldn’t have been fair for either team,” Wolff said.
Ashland hosts Mountain View today. Wolff said his team’s performance against Bend should lift its morale going forward.
“For sure it’s a confidence boost,” he said. “We’ve played a couple 4A schools and Bend is obviously a much stronger program, and being able to know that we can play at that level, that’s a confidence builder. And as the game progressed, our girls played with more confidence. In the first half we were a little nervous and backing off, giving too much room and space for them. But in the second half we were in it and we were battling them.”
Churchill scored a touchdown on its opening drive and never looked back en route to a 58-14 victory over Ashland in the Midwestern League opener for both teams Friday at Churchill High School.
The Lancers (3-0), who led 31-7 at the half, racked up 570 yards of total offense while holding the Grizzlies (1-2) to 251.
Ashland sophomore running back DaMario Watson was a bright spot for the Grizzlies. He had 12 rushes for 78 yards, while Anthony Swanson had six receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Churchill quarterback Jack Blackburn completed 20 of 27 passes for 419 yards and five touchdowns. His top target, Marshaun Tucker Jr., had six catches for 216 yards and two touchdowns.
“One step forward, two steps back,” Ashland coach Beau Lehnerz said. “It’s partly our depth and partly our inexperience. We have like 15 guys out with injuries so we’re playing a lot of young guys and this is their first varsity experience.”
Lehnerz said the Grizzlies will try to turn things around before next week’s game at Marist.
“The thing that we keep telling our kids is that the scoreboard doesn’t dictate how we feel about them or their success,” he said. “We want to win, but we also want to be competitive. We talked a lot (after the loss) about playing for each other. …And when you’re in a situation like this, you have to make a decision. You can either scratch and claw and fight and make the best of it, or quit. And we’re not going to quit.”
At Bend, the Ashland boys soccer team rallied in the second half to tie Bend 1-1 in a nonleague match Friday, avoiding its first loss of the season.
Ashland allowed the opening score just two minutes into the contest, when a pair of Grizzlies defenders slipped to the ground, leading to a point-blank scoring opportunity for Bend junior midfielder Calvan Berteau, who converted the chance from 2 yards out.
The Grizzlies (2-0-1) netted the equalizer in the 54 minute, when senior Jade Boucher one-timed the ball from 20 yards out, ripping the ball past the keeper and into the lower right corner of the goal, assisted by Kai Cheval.
Scott Gustafson, a sophomore, and seniors Ian Rhinefort and Leo Duetz led the defensive effort for Ashland, shutting out the Lava Bears (2-1-2) over the final 78 minutes.
Joe Zavala is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 541-821-0829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Joe_Zavala99. Mike Oxendine contributed to this report.