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Soccer: Indians top La Salle, maintain perfect season

Scappoose darts past La Salle 1-0 on a 44th minute goal from Natalie Muth

Photo Credit: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Natalie Muth knocks a shot past La Salle defender Talya Holenstien early in the second half and past the Falcon goalkeeper to put the Indians up 1-0. Scappoose has now outscored their opponents 7-0 through the first two games.In the end, Tuesday's match turned out exactly as it was expected to: both sides came in having kept clean sheets in their first outing, both sides ranked in the top-10 of their respective classes and both teams with something important to prove.

And for the second time in as many chances, Scappoose came away the victor, downing La Salle 1-0 on a goal from junior Natalie Muth in the 44th minute. It was a big reversal and deep sigh of relief for Scappoose after a first half that saw the Indian goal pressured time and again by an experienced and dangerous Falcon squad, one fresh off defeating the defending 3A state champions 2-0 in their season opener.

“We just gave way too much respect, being at home with the crowd that we've got, knowing that last year they won state and we beat these guys 3-1 and we knew they were going to come out for revenge, but we just didn't step up to it in the first half,” said head coach Nicholas Heffernan. “We were lucky to be scoreless [at halftime].”

La Salle kept the screws on tight for the first 40 minutes, routinely breaking up passes in the midfield and final third, booting them in the direction of the Indian goal and turning the game into a footrace. The few Scappoose chances were fleeting in the first half, though junior Madison Verzino managed to force her way down the left flank to attack the edge of the Falcon back line. Working the ball into the middle proved to be far more difficult. Junior Lucy Davidson skyed a shot over the crossbar in the 27th minute from just inside the 18 yard box, and Muth's advance in the 32nd minute was swallowed up by Falcon keeper Elsa Sierk to end the Indian threat.

La Salle's golden chance came in the 36th minute, as a wide open shot on goal from sophomore Bailey Higgins was sent high above the hands of the Indian net minder Jessica Dykes and into the fence behind them.

The change during the Indians' halftime chat was instantaneously obvious. Once again starting off Verzino's boot from the left sideline, the ball bounced in to junior Lauren Frank, who fought her way to the left edge of the 18 yard box and hammered a shot in between the legs of her defender and into a scrum in front of the goal. The ball jumped and hit senior defender Natalie Stone before falling to the foot of Eleanor Jones, standing inside the goalbox. The Falcons got another miracle, as defender Keegan Storlie stepped in to tap the ball away, but the momentum had already shifted.

Literally moments later, Davidson collected the Falcon clearance and dribbled up the left flank before darting a perfect through ball to Muth. The junior midfielder took a touch and struck across the face of the goal, ripping the lone score of the match from the right side netting.

Still, in spite of the victory, it wasn't enough for Heffernan. Last season, he knew from the first practice that the team had title potential in them, and with a year of experience and few players lost to graduation, the expectations are even higher.

“Like I said to the girls, we should have scored five. Even though the first half we didn't get it going, but the second half, it should have been 5-0. that's how it should [have been],” he said. “We had four chances [within] seven, eight yards of the goal. On a day where we're thriving, they just tap it in, but Muth took her goal exceptionally well. Great through ball by Davidson and she slotted it home.”

The touch that found Muth with a wide expanse of space to work with is exemplary of how the Indians plan to play this season, and how Scappoose hammered Brookings-Harbor in the season opener by a score of six to nil.

“That's what we did for 80 minutes against Brookings-Harbor, and you only kind of saw it in the second half. A lot more of one little touch, three touch, nice and close, spin off each other and then we go. It brings our right and left wings together so the whole team can attack as a whole.”

In the end, it was as good of a wakeup game as the Indians could hope for in the preseason, battling a tough, physical and technically sound opponent ahead of a league season in which the defending champions are likely to meet few challenges. Heffernan said the girls were nervous ahead of the match, given the stakes — first home match and a rematch with La Salle — but they shook it off and with a little luck, kept another clean sheet.

“With good team, you ride your luck,” Heffernan said. “You deserve to have a little bit of luck, and it's games like this where you don't play well and you still get the win. That, to me, that makes a good team. I'm happy, but still a lot to work on.”


Scappoose 1, La Salle 0

LASF 0 0 — 0

SCAP 0 1 — 1

Goals: N. Muth 44'

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