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St. Helens' back line holds up under series of high-quality Quakers chances in nonleague clash at Franklin

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Amanda Nichols of the St. Helens Lions works to clear the ball in a game at Franklin.The key — and saving — moment for the St. Helens girls soccer team, in last week's game at Franklin, came with about 15 minutes remaining.

The host Quakers looked sure to score as a scramble ensued among a group of maroon shirts in front of an empty St. Helens goal.

But Lions senior defender Bailey Hamilton threw herself onto the ground and absorbed the ball coming off a Franklin foot from point-blank range.

"That's just Bailey — she'll do whatever she needs to do," St. Helens coach Simon Date said.

A whistle blew, and the head referee rushed onto the scene, pointing to the penalty dot. However, after a conversation with the linesmen on that end of the field, the referee changed his call and awarded a corner kick instead.

"Initially, he ruled a hand ball, but the linesman was closer to the play and saw that the ball hit her body," Date said.

St. Helens dodged that bullet, but "it got a bit testy at that point — the play turned more physical," Date said.

But neither team scored the rest of the way, and Class 5A St. Helens left with a 0-0 standstill against the 6A team from the Portland Interscholastic League.

"You look on paper and we're going up against a big 6A school, so coming out of it with a draw was a fair result," Date said.

Two days later, St. Helens lost 2-1 at home to Beaverton, another big-school opponent. The Lions fell to 1-2-1 (with a game set for Thursday versus Seaside).

St. Helens has three more 6A opponents (Gresham, Liberty and Century) before starting its Northwest Oregon Conference season at home against Putnam on Oct. 2.

"I asked for a tougher schedule to get prepare us for league," Date said. "I don't care what the record is, I want to see performance, and we need big games to do that."

In the first half against Franklin, the St. Helens back line fended off repeated attacks as the Quakers built an 8-2 edge in shots.

Franklin's most dangerous chance came 10 minutes into the match. Autumn Ost played a ball to Loghan Miller, whose blast from the top of the box forced St. Helens goalie Amber Trenaman to put both hands out front for the block.

Moments later, the Quakers fed a long ball ahead Miller chased down in the center of the field. Trenaman came off her line and was forced to step outside the 18-yard box to play the ball with her feet, resulting in a collision that left both players spilled on the turf.

Five minutes later, Miller got on the loose again. She dribbled from the center line to within scoring range before Kelsey Elliott slid in from the side and took the ball off her cleat.

Midway through the half, Franklin's Billie Pemberton dribbled unchallenged into the box, but her clear shot from 15 yards stayed wide left.

The Quakers' final high-quality chance came in the 31st minute. Emma Povich landed a free kick into the box. Ost won the ball and took a couple dribbles, looking for space, before the Lions' defense closed her off and prevented a shot.

St. Helens created a few chances of its own. The first came when Elliott hit a deep ball down the sideline, from one 18-yard box to the other. It forced Franklin defender Eleanor Vice to play the ball back to her keeper. The quick flip of the field resulted in a deep throw-in for the Lions, but no shot.

Later in the half, Mackenzie Carlson of St. Helens played a through ball to Kaela Lee that resulted in a throw-in from near the corner flag. But the Lions couldn't put a shot on frame.

St. Helens' best chance came in the final five minutes of the half. Carlson chased a ball to the end line, made a quick turn and crossed to the far side. Maddie Fuller collected the ball and hit a one-hopper on target that forced Franklin goalie Emily Cornejo to make a save.

Early in the second half, Carlson got free for a one-on-one breakaway, but she was able to find the net.

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