The Grizzlies were under the lights on a Friday night, so why not score a touchdown?
The Ashland High boys soccer team did just that and made it look easy against North Eugene, scoring twice in the first 12 minutes en route to another lopsided Midwestern League victory, 7-0, at Walter A. Phillips Field.
Jade Boucher had a goal and an assist and six different Grizzlies scored in the first 54 minutes as Ashland earned its fourth consecutive victory to take over sole possession of first place in the MWL with two games left on its regular-season schedule.
Ashland co-head coach Brad Roupp said the Grizzlies’ aggressive, free-flowing style is a result of years of practice together.
“This group, they support each other, they pass freely, they run for each other and they understand the game,” he said. “They watch this game and they live and breathe it, and it’s just so fun to coach.”
Ashland (9-1-2, 5-0 MWL) is a half-game ahead of Marist (8-3, 4-0) heading into next Friday’s showdown at Phillips Field.
The Grizzlies made sure they wouldn’t be caught looking ahead early against the Highlanders (2-7-2, 2-2-1), notching the only goal they would need in the ninth minute when Ben Lucero swooped in to finish after Scott Gustafson’s hard shot was deflected by the keeper.
Three minutes later Leo Duetz eluded three defenders while dribbling into the box before firing a rocket from about 10 yards out that skittered between a defender’s legs and just to the right of the keeper.
Joe Holden’s left-footed goal in the 24th made it 3-0, and Joseph Wallner-Sentle took advantage of a great pass from Boucher to give the Grizzlies a 4-0 halftime cushion.
“The beauty is that we’re getting all these close shots because we’re working the ball in,” Roupp said.
In the second half, Boucher took a pass from Wallner-Sentle and drove the ball past the keeper from about 15 yards out in the 47th, and six minutes later Lucero passed to Ian Rinefort for another pretty strike.
With about five minutes to go, Ashland keeper Zander Huston brought the crowd to its feet by making a diving save on a penalty kick. It was only North Eugene's fourth shot on goal in the game, as the Grizzlies out-shot the Highlanders 22-4, including 16-4 on frame.
The Grizzlies travel to face Crater on Tuesday before the much anticipated regular-season finale against Marist. The Spartans have three games left on their regular-season schedule against Crater, Ashland and North Eugene.
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.