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Lady Braves off to sizzling start

Banks girls are unbeaten through their first three matches of the season

 - Banks senior midfielder Emily Vandehey controls the ball against defensive pressure from Estacada's Cassy MacMurray during last Thursday's nonleague soccer match at Sunset Park.Sometimes the final result doesn’t tell the whole story.

The members of the Banks girls soccer team felt a little bit like that, perhaps, last week. The Braves were often dominant in play over the course of three games, but they did not have a ton of goals to show for their efforts.

Still, the group kicked off the 2014 season with a solid 2-0-1 start, slipping past Yamhill-Carlton 1-0 last Tuesday before tying Estacada 1-1 on Thursday and then beating North Valley 2-1 on Saturday.

“It’s just frustrating that we didn’t get the win, because I think we deserved it,” coach Brian Reed said after the tie against the Rangers, his team’s only home match so far this season. “I don’t feel that way a lot. I really don’t.”

Indeed, playing Estacada at Sunset Park on a windy day, Banks frequently pressured their opponents’ goal with corner kicks and shots. That is one part of scoring.

And if they can put together more plays like the one they did score on, the Braves could send plenty more goals into the net this fall.

After a scoreless first half, the Braves broke the stalemate in about the 46th minute with some lovely combination play up the right wing. Kayla Schnaubelt and Lauren Hill strung together a series of passes up the sideline before Schnaubelt launched a cross toward the goal.

Making a run up the middle of the field, Emily Vandehey might have gotten the slightest of touches on the ball, but it carried past her. Fortunately for the Braves, Jackie Smith was making a simultaneous run from the left wing toward the far post, and she drilled a shot from near the top of the penalty area past Estacada goalkeeper Jessie Hunt for a 1-0 lead.

“Right before I came in, my coach was telling me that he wanted me to cut in more,” noted Smith, a sophomore, for whom the score was her first varsity goal. “That was the first time I did that (in) that game, and so I was like, ‘Oh, all right, I’m just going to keep doing that, I guess.’ It was really good.”

The Rangers scored their goal about 10 minutes later off a short corner kick, which eventually came to Claire Arnett, who sent a chip shot across the goal toward the right post.

For a moment, Banks goalkeeper Lucy Plews looked like she might make the save, as she got her hands on the ball, but it tumbled into the net to tie the game.

“I think she tried to lift it, and I think she should have had that, but other than that, I thought she made some really good decisions on coming out and playing well,” Reed said. “So I’m happy with her, too. I’m happy with the whole thing, just not the result, just not the final score.”

Indeed, Plews came up big for the Braves on more than one Estacada opportunity, including a Kreek Copher breakaway with about 10 minutes remaining, when Plews charged off her line and wound up with the ball.

Banks had several chances to score the go-ahead goal in the final minutes but could not convert, one of the best of them coming when Vandehey tried to chip the ball and sent it over the goal.

So while the Braves are a work in progress early in the season, the progress is good.Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD
 - Banks sophomore Jackie Smith gets congratulated by teammates Cassie Streblow (4), 
Lauren Hill (2) and Kayla Schnaubelt (5) after scoring a goal during last Thursday's game.

“I thought we dominated, honestly,” Vandehey said. “We took everything that we’ve been practicing, especially yesterday, and we implemented that into the game. I think we’re proud of how we played today. The result doesn’t exactly show how tough we played.”

While Vandehey did not score against Estacada, the senior did play a prominent role in the team’s two wins last week. Against the Tigers, during a match in which Reed said his side took about 30 shots, Vandehey scored the only goal midway through the first half.

She also had the game-winner Saturday in Cottage Grove, the site for the North Valley game. Vandehey’s cousin Tristin Vandehey is a senior for the Knights, who hail from Grants Pass. Reed said it was the persistence of the two girls that led to the scheduling of the game, and the two teams split the travel difference.

In what Reed characterized as a fairly even game, Banks got a goal from Schnaubelt and a penalty kick score from Vandehey before North Valley converted a penalty kick of its own with about 15 minutes remaining.

 - Banks sophomore forward Lauren Hill dribbles the ball against pressure from Estacada's Kristen Kiser during last Thrusday's nonleague game.The Braves faced perhaps their stiffest nonleague test so far on Tuesday, when they hosted Molalla at Kelly Field. The Indians entered the game at 2-0 and No. 2 in the OSAA Class 4A rankings. Results were not available at press deadline.

Banks is back in action next Tuesday, when the squad opens up Cowapa League play at Tillamook.


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