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Valiant girls take a rare misstep at Catlin Gabel

Valley Catholic sees its unbeaten league record fall by the wayside
by: MILES VANCE, HEAD GAMES — Valley Catholic’s Emily Keagbine heads the ball away from Catlin Gabel’s Hannah Carr during the Valiants’ 2-1 loss to the Eagles on Monday night.

PORTLAND - Valley Catholic's girls soccer team hasn't taken many missteps this year, but the Valiants took one Monday night at Catlin Gabel and it might end up costing them big-time.

Valley Catholic, unbeaten in District 1 play entering Monday's game, stepped out quickly against the similarly unbeaten Eagles, scored just eight minutes into the match and seemed to be in complete control.

But Catlin Gabel righted itself after the first 20 minutes, notched the tying goal midway through the first half, then added the game-winner with five minutes remaining to win 2-1. The loss dropped Valley Catholic's District 1 record to 4-1 while Catlin Gabel remained alone in first place at 5-0 with Oregon Episcopal a half game back at 4-0.

With just two league contests left, and with the knowledge that Valley Catholic had already successfully handled the Eagles in the Catlin Gabel Jamboree and in a non-league match (winning 4-1 on Sept. 22), Monday's defeat hurt even worse.

'This is a team that we've beat twice already,' said Valley Catholic coach Oscar Monteblanco. 'You may say that sometimes you come in to a game like this thinking that you beat them twice, but it's evening, it's their home field and everybody's hurt. Sometimes it's a mental breakdown, and this was our second game in a row in which we just were very flat in regards to our soccer skills.'

'Since our starting forward (Lacey Krebs) almost tore her ACL or something, we've sort of been messed up since that,' said Valley Catholic freshman midfielder Megan Gabourel, who scored her team's lone goal Monday.

Despite the final outcome, the Valiants looked good at the start of their Monday match, getting a strong run and shot from Carly Verboort just three minutes into the game, then Gabourel's goal five minutes later. On that scoring play, Valley Catholic sophomore forward Meghan Blood played a long through ball up the middle of the field to the streaking Gabourel and she outran the Catlin defender behind her and beat Eagle keeper Isabelle Miller to the right corner with 31 minutes, 56 seconds left in the half.

The Valiants had a couple other strong chances to extend their lead too, and their failure to do so may have been as costly as anything Monday night. Gabourel had another good opportunity with 26 minutes left in the half but her shot missed wide to the left, and Kate Emery set up a dangerous left-footed shot by Blood stopped by Miller with 18 minutes left in the opening half.

But Catlin Gabel deadlocked the score one minute later when Catlin Gabel's Abby Conyers launched a 23-yard shot up and over Valiant keeper Greta Mannen to the top left corner of the goal.

The scored stayed at 1-1 until halftime, though the Valiants thought they'd notched the go-ahead goal with 2:20 remaining before the break. Elizabeth Emery crossed the ball into the Catlin Gabel penalty box where Miller dropped the ball in traffic and senior defender Charlotte Pfeiffer knocked it into the back of the net.

Game officials, however, ruled that Miller still had her hand on the ball when Pfeiffer got to it, the goal was negated and the two teams went to the half at 1-1.

Before the Eagles finally notched their game-winner, there were two additional scoring chances - one for each team - that highlighted the second half. Catlin had the first of those when Kaethe Selkirk set up Hannah Carr for a hard shot that missed just right with 20 minutes left to play. Valley's best chance came when Kate Emery and Blood chased down a free ball in the Eagles' penalty box and collided with Miller; Valiant junior Bridget Carrick came on to try and knock the free ball home but Miller was there to make the stop and preserve the tie.

The Eagles then posted the game-winning goal with 5:16 left to play when Carr sent the ball up the middle of the field to Selkirk who beat Mannen to the right corner from 10 yards out.

'It's the second game (in a row) that I see my girls playing at the level of their opponent,' Monteblanco said. 'We've seen this team twice; I know we're better than this, and for us to come out and do what we did today is just unacceptable.'

'It's harder with the bench because there's a few girls who aren't as good and we've been trying to sub in so we still have a strong team on the field,' Gabourel said. 'And by the end of the game we were all tired.'

In upcoming matches, Valley Catholic plays at OES at 6:30 p.m. Friday and hosts Yamhill-Carlton at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday.