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Valiants' state hopes end at OES

VC comes up short against OES, but sees big things in its future
by: Miles Vance FOCUSED — Valley Catholic's Chelsea Alsdorf gets ready to make a header in her team's Monday loss at OES in the District 1 playoffs.

PORTLAND - The Valley Catholic girls soccer team grew so much, learned so much and got so close to its goal of a state playoff berth, it made it that much harder for the Valiants to see the 2011 season end on Tuesday.

But that's what happened, with Valley Catholic waylaid 3-1 by talented Oregon Episcopal School at OES in the final round of the District 1 playoffs. The loss dropped VC's overall record to 7-6-0 and ended its 2011 season, while the Aardvarks improved to 10-3-2 and sent OES on to the first round of the Class 3A/2A/1A state playoffs.

'I think we played well together, but we just made a few mistakes,' said freshman forward Sarah Connelly, who scored her team's lone goal 13 minutes into the second half. 'We have to learn from it and keep going, get ready for next season.'

'There were a lot of what-ifs, things we could have done differently, but I'm proud of the way we played tonight,' said junior midfielder Claire McLoughlin. 'I thought we gave it our all even though the result wasn't what we hoped for.'

'OES - they're a great team - but our team played awesome today,' added Valley Catholic coach Kayla Crandall. 'It could have gone either way.'

OES made things go its way on Tuesday, however, getting the game's first goal when Carolyn Ruoff sent the ball up the middle to junior Erica Massaro and she beat the last VC defender and scored to make it 1-0.

The Valiants created a couple great chances late in the opening half, but OES' 1-0 lead held up until halftime and the Aardvarks added to it 12 minutes into the second half. There, Anastasiya Chevtchenko sent a quick pass up the right seam to Massaro, and she beat one defender and VC keeper Amanda Carrera to make it 2-0 with 28:17 left in the game.

But Valley Catholic answered just 37 seconds later, cutting the deficit to 2-1 when Connelly made a steal in the left-center portion of the field, broke past OES' back line, cut to the middle and knocked a shot to the left corner of the goal.

'I just went for it,' Connelly said. 'I knew that if I went to the opposite corner that I was running that the goalie wouldn't have a good chance.'

Undaunted, OES came through with the insurance goal with 15:19 left on the clock when Chevtchenko knocked a free kick into the box from the right corner and Ruoff was there to head it home at the near post for the final 3-1 margin.

Despite the loss, the Valiants left proud of their efforts and convinced of their future.

'I'm still proud of us,' McLoughlin said. 'We're a pretty young team, but now we know what to do for next season.'

'I told the girls I'm so proud of them,' Crandall said. 'They worked so hard and got so much better and I'm excited for the future. Hopefully, we'll just keep getting better through the next few years.'