Scappoose nets 2-1 girls soccer victory over North Marion
What would have been a taut playoff preview one year ago between the North Marion and Scappoose girls soccer teams nonetheless made for an exciting nonconference game on Wednesday.
The visiting Indians pulled away in the final minutes for a 2-1 victory.
Both teams were looking to remain unbeaten. The Huskies (now 2-1-1) were coming off a 3-3 draw against defending state champion Valley Catholic the previous week, while Scappoose (3-0) was enjoying its best preseason since going undefeated in its 2015 run to the Clas 4A championship.
"The last two years, we've had rough preseasons," Scappoose coach Summer Jark said. "Last year, we were 0-3, so this is a way better start. We're excited about the season."
The programs were league champions in 2017, both then eliminated in the Oregon School Activities Association 4A quarterfinals. And while North Marion has its eyes on making a run at the 4A title game this year, Scappoose is adjusting its expectations after going up to 5A.
"I'm excited about that," Jark said. "If we made playoffs, that was our team goal. That would be good. Things are looking good, so we'll just see how it goes."
The showdown played out relatively evenly through the first half. Scappoose enjoyed an advantage in possession, moving into North Marion territory and pressuring the defense, but the Huskies were able to counterattack, breaking up the Indian offense and driving the ball back.
That led to the first goal. Sophomore midfielder Mya Hammack found senior forward Mar Verastegui open just outside the Scappoose box on the right side of the field. Verastegui struck a low ball across the goal to the back left side of the net to give the Huskies a 1-0 advantage in the 22nd minute.
North Marion's defense held through most of the half, driving off Scappoose's attacks until Huskies' goalkeeper Alex McArthur charged out to clear a ball in the 35th minute and left the net clear. The Indians' Lauren Whisenhunt poked the ball away from the defense for a soft lob into the goal to tie the game at 1-1.
"It was just a miscommunication between (McArthur) and the defender," North Marion coach Ben Bonser said of his sophomore keeper, who missed significant time during fall practices due to injury.
"This is her third game back," Bonser said. "She played a good game (versus Valley Catholic). Getting back to more intense action — these two are probably two of the better teams we're going to see until playoffs."
Heading into the second half, Jark wanted to neutralize the Huskies' offense by pressuring Hammack for the final 40 minutes, negating North Marion's primary playmaker.
"That was our plan the second half. We were going to man-mark her and try to slow her down, because she sets everything up," Jark said.
But just minutes into the second half, Hammack charged into the Scappoose penalty box and went down with an injury after she and an Indian defender came together on the ball. Hammack was carried off by the coaching staff and did not return.
Without one of its key cogs, North Marion failed to maintain consistent pressure in its counterattacks and had difficulty making headway against the Scappoose defense.
"She is the third main attacker, and without that, our attackers were isolated out there trying to control the midfield," Bonser said. "We play a system that is built around those players, and if you lose one of those players, it's going to be really tough to adjust on the fly."
As North Marion's offense struggled to maintain its same efficiency without Hammack, Scappoose took advantage and launched a late-game charge that kept the ball consistently around the Huskies' goal. Scoring opportunities continued to stack up, and the Indians scored in the 74th minute on the winning strike from sophomore Tessa Davidson.
"I think our fitness showed through," Jark said. "I think the last 15 minutes, it looked like they (the Huskies) were maybe getting tired and our fitness kicked in."
With North Marion's preseason schedule in the bag, the Huskies will turn their attention to the team's league opener against the Molalla Indians (0-3) on Monday.
Meanwhile, Scappoose was scheduled to continue its nonconference slate on Thursday against Oregon Episcopal School, which has won six of the past seven titles at the 3A/2A/1A level.
"They're unreal," Jark said. "They're putting up some numbers."