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Banks girls continue improving despite loss to Valley Catholic

BEAVERTON — The Banks girls soccer team keeps taking steps forward.

That might not seem readily apparent from the Braves’ 6-1 loss on the road to Valley Catholic last Thursday, but the body of evidence certainly points toward it, both in that game and in the team’s season thus far.

The defeat snapped a four-game win streak for Banks, which appears primed to become the clear third-place team in the Cowapa League behind Class 4A superpowers Scappoose and Valley Catholic.NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES
 - Banks senior Ariel Slifka (14) tries to get around Valley Catholic's Meredith Woolverton during last Thursday's Cowapa League match.

It says a lot about the strides the team has taken that head coach Brian Reed now references how competitive his team is in any given match against the league’s upper echelon.

“We played them much tougher the first time,” Reed admitted Thursday night. “We knew it was going to be tougher on turf to contain their speed and their fitness. We just can’t match it.

“I was actually a little more satisfied with the last game. I was happy with the effort, just not the production in this game. It was tough to produce anything against them.”

The first contest this fall between these teams resulted in a 5-0 Valiants win on Sept. 24 that was much closer than the score indicated. After Valley Catholic scored a goal in the opening minutes, it didn’t find the net again until about the last quarter-hour of the match, when the Braves ran out of gas.

In the rematch, the Valiants (7-3-1, 6-1) did not score until nine minutes remained in the first half, but they cashed in twice more before the halftime whistle and three more times in the second half.

Still, the Braves (6-4-1, 4-3) had their highlights, especially senior center back Cassie Streblow’s goal on a free kick with just under 10 minutes remaining. After Valley Catholic was whistled for a foul just outside the top of the penalty area, Streblow stepped up and absolutely ripped a shot at goal. The ball hit off the underside of the crossbar and went over the line to beat keeper Noelle Mannen, giving Banks its first goal against Valley Catholic since the private school joined the Cowapa League at the start of last school year.

“That close to the goal, we had to get something in, I guess,” Streblow said. “Just to keep the intensity up is good. To get one in the back of the net I think helped everybody. We worked hard for everything. We deserved a goal at the end.”

Plenty of others did nice work for the team throughout the match. Streblow’s partner in the back, Aubrey Kimmel, drew the tough task of having to man-mark dangerous Valley Catholic forward Reilly Blood. Though Blood did score the home team’s first two goals, Kimmel stuck to her like glue and denied her many other opportunities.

Kim Jordan worked tirelessly, playing box-to-box on the right wing, and the Braves showed impressive ability to maintain possession and build out of the back at times despite pressure from the Valiants.

One of those instances led to a pretty give-and-go between sisters Ariel and Aspen Slifka through Valley’s defensive third, but Ariel’s shot did not have quite enough pace on it to severely test Mannen in the second half.

“I thought our passing was great. I was really impressed with that,” Kimmel said. “I was really impressed with our mids. I thought our defense held up really well marking and just getting to the ball first.”

In addition to Blood’s scores, Valley Catholic also got two goals from Kate MacNaughton (38th and 43rd minutes) and one each from Meredith Woolverton (57th) and Regan Torres (63rd).

The Braves also picked up two wins in five days prior to last Thursday’s game. On Oct. 10, Banks spotted host and then-seventh-ranked Cottage Grove a goal in the opening minutes. But Lauren Hill, Aspen Slifka and Jordan responded with three unanswered tallies for a 3-1 nonleague victory.

And last Tuesday, the Braves defeated Tillamook by a 7-0 score for the second time this season. Hill recorded a hat trick, Jackie Smith scored two goals, and Slifka and Jordan added one apiece.

Results of Tuesday’s match against No. 2 Scappoose were unavailable at press deadline. Back on Sept. 29, the two teams were tied until late, when the Indians finally recorded the game-winner.

Banks rounds out its Cowapa schedule on Thursday at home against Astoria and on Oct. 27 at Seaside. The Braves came from behind for one-goal victories against both opponents in the first go-round.

“I think if we can clearly, cleanly beat both of them (Astoria and Seaside), that’s going to be huge for us going into the play-in,” Reed said. “And hopefully these guys (Valley Catholic) move up in the top eight and we get a home game.”


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