The senior finds the back of the net with less than 2 minutes remaining, and the Cougars earn a 2-2 tie after a disastrous first half.

by: JEFF GOODMAN - Skylee Doman (second from left) hugs Chloe Bell, who scored with less than 2 minutes left to earn a 2-2 tie for the Canby girls soccer team Oct. 15 at West Linn. WEST LINN — Chloe Bell was in a joyous mood after the Canby girls soccer team’s league match against West Linn.

So joyous, in fact, that she got caught up in the moment and accidentally misspoke.

“It was a great win,” she said.

Bell quickly corrected herself — she knew it was a tie — but her initial words spoke volumes for how the Cougars felt after their 2-2 decision against the eighth-ranked Lions.

Setting aside a woeful first half, they responded with an impassioned effort after the break and scored a miraculous goal with 74 seconds left to avoid their third-straight setback in what has been a tumultuous season.

To cap a second half that featured a plethora of scoring chances for Canby (4-6-2, 2-4-2 in the Three Rivers League), Bell delivered the late-game heroics with an epic strike in the 79th minute.

“Oh my gosh,” the senior said. “I just called for the ball from (sophomore Skylee Doman), took a touch and just shot. I didn’t even look at the goal. I just shot it.”

The ball floated past West Linn goalkeeper Dani Moscow and found a home in the upper left corner of the net, erasing the Cougars’ one-goal deficit. Bell was mobbed by her teammates after the play.

Canby coach Ben Winegar, whose team fell 3-2 to the Lions (8-2-2, 4-2-2) at home Sept. 24, said he wasn’t surprised by Bell’s crafty goal.

“Chloe can pull stuff out of nowhere,” he said. “She does it in practice all the time. In pregame (warm-ups), she shot a shot going straight at the goalkeeper with her right foot, and it bent up into the right corner. Right foot into right corner? It’s not an easy shot. Just a brilliant shot. Her second half was phenomenal. She led the charge.”

The Cougars’ second-half charge seemingly began during an emotional halftime discussion. Members of the team acknowledged that they had played poorly before the break. They had ceded two goals in the first 12 minutes of the game. They hadn’t linked passes successfully in Lions territory. They hadn’t come close to matching West Linn’s energy.

“They were all fed up with playing like that,” Winegar said. “It was one of those moments where they were saying things and all they could do was look in the mirror and say, ‘It’s me, too.’ They really took ownership of it. Their desire changed. Their heart changed. Everything changed.”

Even Winegar amended his normal halftime routine, pulling aside Bell and fellow co-captains Olivia Baggerly and Ashley Evans for a short meeting before the start of the second half. He said it’s something he never does.

He told the seniors what the team needed to fix but kept the mood light, even drawing a laugh from Baggerly.

“I was almost in tears at halftime because it was so frustrating,” Baggerly said. “But we knew that we had nothing to lose. Everyone just stepped it up.”

Canby became a much livelier team almost immediately. Doman took a shot less than a minute into the second half. Baggerly followed with an indirect kick a few minutes later. The Cougars looked like a team on a mission.

In the 54th minute, Doman chased down a ball on the right side of the field and got off a shot as Moscow approached to limit her angle. The force, it seemed, was with her.

“(Assistant coach Alex Frixione) always tells me to be a Jedi and to just pass it into the goal. It’s just a simple little pass. That’s just what I was thinking. I saw (Moscow) committing to me, and I saw the left far post, so I just kicked it. ... Our intensity was so great. Nothing could’ve happened without all of us talking. What happened in the second half was just, ‘Wow.’ It was amazing.”

Added Winegar: “I’m sure their back line is going to have nightmares of her running at them.”

Doman has played an integral role on the attack for the Cougars, who have had to fill voids left by graduated forward Karley Baggerly and injured forward Madison Shorter.

Winegar said she is starting to complement her sprinting skills — she was a member of the school’s state-qualifying 400-meter relay squad as a freshman last year — with soccer smarts.

“Speed is a killer, especially in our league,” Winegar said. “Oregon City killed us with their speed through the middle, and it’s hard to deal with. It’s hard to run with players when they’re running past you. (Doman is) just really beginning to figure out what she can and can’t do.

“At the beginning of the season, you could see the doubt in her eyes. But we had a scrimmage (Oct. 10), and all of a sudden she started asking questions — and they were all the right questions. Those questions really showed (against West Linn).”

Not necessarily out loud, Canby is starting to ask questions about its own future this season.

At one point, Canby, West Linn, Oregon City and Lakeridge were all tied at 2-2-1 in league play. But the Lions won their next two games, defeating Oregon City and Lake Oswego, while the Cougars dropped back-to-back home duels against Clackamas and Oregon City.

Of course, they’re very familiar with playing in a tough conference. Last year, they placed fifth out of six teams in the TRL but ended up advancing past the second round of the state playoffs for the first time in school history before losing to Portland-Grant in the quarterfinals.

“We know we can beat teams like this,” Baggerly said. “We’re super young, and we just want wins, but we’re getting there. I could see us breaking out in the playoffs, and nobody would expect it.”

Few in attendance probably expected Canby to bounce back from its awful first half against West Linn.

The Lions scored in the 5th minute on a beautiful shot from the left corner by junior Katie Moller. They extended their lead to 2-0 in the 12th minute when Moller dished a diagonal grounder to streaking junior Courteney Landis, who zipped the ball past Cougars goalkeeper Heoniya Sharabarin.

“It was quiet on the field,” Bell said. “As Winegar said, we started like coal but came back like a diamond.”

Sharabarin made two clutch saves in the final 10 minutes of the match to keep Canby within striking distance, including one on a close-range shot in the 75th minute.

“I knew we could do it — I have total faith in my team,” Doman said. “I’m just glad it did happen.”

“I’m still not content (with a tie), but we’re glad because we don’t usually come back like that,” Baggerly said. “It was big for us.”

Added Winegar: “It’s a win in my book — because of the adversity they faced in the first half and their performance in the second half. At this point, if they don’t believe that they can do this to everybody, I don’t’ know where their mind is. They have to understand what they can do when they put their mind to it. Their desire was different in the second half. It was night and day. That’s been the biggest bugaboo. They start flat, and they’re trying to figure it out. I’d like to not go down 2-0, but to come back like that — so many other teams would fold.”

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