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Apollos rally for 3-2 win over Beavers

After trailing 1-0, the Apollos notch three goals in just under 19 minutes
by: MILES VANCE, ON THE BALL — Beaverton junior Alli Hubbard (right) and Sunset sophomore Eric Carney race to the ball during Sunset’s 3-2 Metro League victory on Monday night.

BEAVERTON - Sometimes it isn't about how you start the race but about how you finish it.

The Sunset girls soccer team proved that conclusively on Monday, rallying from a 1-0 deficit in its match against Beaverton by scoring three straight goals to post a key 3-2 victory at Beaverton High School. The Apollos hope to prove it in the Metro League, too - after starting league play at 0-1-1, Sunset would dearly love to finish its year on a high note and win one of the Metro's four state playoff berths. Its win over the Beavers left Sunset at 1-1-1 and in a three-way tie for third place with Beaverton and Southridge.

'We've always beaten Beaverton every year and we weren't about to break that tradition,' said Sunset senior forward Bri Meek, who scored two of her team's three goals on Monday. 'It doesn't matter what they did before this; we're going to come out and beat them every time.'

'I was worried about how we would respond to being down 1-0 (because) we've been struggling recently,' said Sunset coach Ben Durano. 'But I'm very pleased. We put a lot of pressure on their defense.'

For Beaver-ton, meanwhile, Monday's loss marked a big step backward after opening its year with a scoreless tie against perennial power Jesuit and a 3-2 win over playoff favorite Westview.

'We started getting overconfident and stopped playing and they came out harder in the second half,' said Beaverton senior forward Shannon Saxton. 'We definitely put our heads down after they scored and that definitely changed the game.'

'There was a letdown, for sure, mental and physical,' said Beaverton coach Brittni Estep-Carmichael. 'We were controlling the play, then the momentum shifted and they started taking over and we didn't match them in the middle of the field. We didn't go up in the air for balls. They won every second ball.'

Early on, however, Beaverton absolutely held the upper hand, rattling off four shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of the match and taking a 1-0 lead when Saxton took a pass from senior midfielder Sara Blake on the right side, beat the Apollo defense up the baseline and angled a shot past Sunset freshman keeper Molly Mettler with 30 minutes, 57 seconds left in the half.

But Sunset began to get its footing in the next 10 minutes, began to take control in the final 20 minutes of the opening half and knotted the score at 1-1 when junior midfielder Eva Decesaro sent a crossing pass to the right post where Meek headed it past Beaver sophomore keeper Caitlin Ellerbe to make it 1-1 with 9:39 remaining.

The Apollos capitalized on their momentum early in the second half too, when junior forward Chelsea Robinson collected a loose ball on the right side, dribbled into the Beaverton penalty box, then sent the ball to senior forward Jessica Stine. Stine controlled the ball 10 yards out of goal, then turned and sent a shot past Ellerbe to the left post for a 2-1 lead just three minutes into the half.

Sunset struck again just 6-1/2 minutes later when a Beaverton player was whistled for a handball in the Beaver penalty box and Meek stepped forward and converted the ensuing penalty kick.

'We started to combine our passes better and we got our confidence back,' Meek explained of her team's resurgence. 'At first, we were down for about five minutes but then we realized the game wasn't over and we started playing.'

'We started winning balls in the middle, which was key, and we started putting pressure on their defense,' Durano said. 'We changed a little bit tactically, and … Beaverton took a little while to get out of that and figure out what we were doing.'

Beaverton tried to rally in the remaining minutes, getting shots from Stephanie Lilla and Blake before senior Becca Woods finally broke through for her team's final score with 6:56 left on the clock. Blake started the scoring play with a corner kick from the right side and Woods came through with a header for the final 3-2 margin.

'We were much more intense in the first 20 minutes and we were working harder and then we got cocky,' Saxton said. 'We definitely will learn from it - we can't come in overconfident. We can't.'

'It tests our character (but) we can't dwell on it. We know what we did,' Estep-Carmichael said. 'We'll talk about it for a second, then move on and get prepared for Southridge Thursday.'

In upcoming games, Sunset hosts Aloha at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Thursday) and plays at Westview at 7:30 p.m. Monday. Beaverton is at Southridge at 7:30 p.m. tonight and at Aloha at 7:30 p.m. Monday.