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The Kingsmen up their stock in Class 5A girls soccer

Last week was a huge week for Putnam’s unheralded girls soccer team.

The upstart Kingsmen upped their stock in the Northwest Oregon Conference and in the OSAA RPI rankings, knocking off Wilsonville at Wilsonville, 1-0; and shutting down cross-town rival Milwaukie, 3-0.

The pair of wins left the Kingsmen (4-4-4, 4-1-1) tied with Sherwood (9-2-2, 4-1-1), in second place in the NWOC standings, with only an Oct. 29 conference game with Liberty (5-8-0, 3-3-0) remaining.

It was the first loss of the league season for the NWOC-leading Wildcats (9-3-1, 5-1-0), who were the top-ranked Class 5A team in the state heading into the game with the Kingsmen.

It was the first time the Cats had been shut out by a Class 5A team this year. Their only other losses were at the hands of Class 6A teams West Linn (1-0) and Tigard (2-0). Tigard (11-0-2) is the top-ranked team in 6A.

The upset of Wilsonville moved Putnam up from 16th to ninth in the OSAA Class 5A girls soccer rankings.

“It was a great night for some football,” said Putnam coach Alex Ponce. “The girls really stepped to the challenge, and it showed.”

Heroine honors went to freshman midfielder Abigail Herbert and senior goalie Bella Geist. Herbert scored the game’s lone goal in the 50th minute, while Geist made no fewer than 12 saves.

“Abigail had a great all around game,” Ponce said. “We’ve been working with her to get her into dangerous areas, where she can take more shots. She has a great strike on the ball and already possesses fantastic technical ability. When you put all three of those qualities together in one play, magical things can happen. We are very happy for her. She got her first varsity goal in her biggest match of her young career.”

Ponce described Herbert’s game-winner: “Maleah Maier had the ball on the left wing. She saw Abigail darting in behind the back line, so she played a 40-yard diagonal pass over the top. In two touches, Abigail controlled the ball, cutting inside the penalty-box and beating Wilsonville’s outside left back with one touch. She found herself 10 yards out from goal and placed her shot low left, leaving the keeper standing with her second touch.

“It was a professionally taken goal by Abigail, with great vision by Maleah.”

Ponce said of Geist’s play: “Half of their shots were taken from a deeper range, which Bella had no problem collecting. But she had three key saves, coming off her line to parry away three very dangerous crosses....

“One big save came midway through the second half, when a low close-range shot went through Bella’s legs. She reached through her legs backwards to snatch it. We on the bench thought it was in for a goal, but her hands reacted so quickly to snatch the ball, it was actually shocking to witness. That was Wilsonville’s only shot from close range....

“A few minutes later Bella misjudged a corner kick as it was curling to go in the goal. Bella dove backwards into her goal, swatting the ball before it crossed the goal line. One of our defenders came in and cleaned it up with a clearance....

“Bella is the reigning conference ‘player of the year’ and she exemplified exactly why that is the case on such a big stage, playing the top-ranked team in their own backyard. She’s a college-level player, playing in high school, so she has all the qualities to keep us in matches. She was simply incredible to watch.”

Ponce also had praise for sophomore Lauren Gilbert and freshman Megan Spaulding for their play in the upset of the Wildcats.

“Their anticipation of the ball coming down their sides is improving their positioning,” Ponce said. “At times during the game they made their jobs look easy. Their distributing is getting better and better, helping us keep the ball and get out of our half....”

Spaulding, Herbert and freshman Karla Herrera scored in the shutout of Milwaukie.

“Karla had a solid all-around match,” Ponce said. “She got her first varsity start and she was very active on both sides of the ball from the get-go. She really likes pressuring and winning the ball with her great energy. She never stops working. As a result, she earned herself a goal, moving off the ball and staying with the play. She grows with confidence each match....

“Lindsey Shaw made her regular-season debut, coming off a concussion injury. She was able to put in a good short shift at right back. She’d been working hard on her touch and fitness all week, so we were happy to see her with her friends on the pitch again....

“The back-line and Bella did their defensive duties well and earned another clean sheet.”

It was the seventh shutout of the season and the third shutout in a row for Geist and the Kingsmen.

Putnam boys kick Mustangs

Last week was an up-and-down week for Putnam boys.

The Kingsmen met their match in then fourth-ranked Wilsonville on Oct. 22, losing 6-2. But they regrouped and bounced back on Thursday with a 2-0 win at Milwaukie.

“Wilsonville is senior dominated and they are as good as any team we’ve played, but on a given night we could beat them,” said Putnam coach Mitch Wing.

Wing said his Kingsmen were dominant in last week’s game with the Mustangs, but he said they struggled to find the net.

German exchange student Luka Hartwig scored Putnam’s first goal unassisted in the 32nd minute, beating two defenders and firing a shot past the Mustang keeper form just seven yards out. River Lee added an insurance tally in the 72nd minute, taking a pass from Elliot Bixby and burying the ball in the back of the net from 10 yards out.

Jesse Martinez was in-goal, earning his second shutout of the season, with three saves.

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