Girls soccer: Oregon’s season ends with loss to Stillman Valley in sectional semifinal

Cardinals turn tables on regular-season loss with 2-1 win

Oregon's Mya Engelkes (1) and Stillman Valley's Olivia Voltz run down a loose ball during the 1A Indian Creek Sectional on Saturday, May 18, 2024. Stillman Valley won the game 2-1 to advance to the sectional championship.

WATERMAN – The season came to an end for the Oregon girls soccer team with a 2-1 loss to Stillman Valley in the Class 1A Indian Creek Sectional semifinal on Saturday.

Coming in with an 18-1 record and 4-1 win over the Cardinals (18-4) during the regular season, the loss was stinging to Oregon coach Seger Larson.

“We were the better team, but they wanted it more,” Larson said. “We had way more chances (shots on goal).”

After a scoreless first half, Stillman Valley stunned the Hawks with goals at six and 22 minutes into the second half for a 2-0 lead.

“Our defense wasn’t ready,” Larson said.

The first score was by Harleigh Wallin, with an assist from Grace Costello. It appeared Wallin was planning a pass, but opted for a long shot and got it past goalie Mili Zaval.

“I think it surprised their goalie,” Stillman Valley coach Erin McMaster said.

On the second score, it was Costello taking control of a possession at midfield and dribbling toward the goal. That set somewhat of a fluke goal in motion, as Amelia Dunseth took a shot at the goal and it grazed the hip of Emelia Winstead for the 2-0 lead.

Technically, the score was credited to Winstead. Still, it would have gone in the net had it not hit Winstead.

“Once we got a 2-0 lead, that really put the pressure on Oregon,” McMaster said.

Anna Stender gave Oregon life with a goal with 14 minutes left in the game, off a Sarah Eckardt assist. That play energized the Hawk crowd and team and Larson could be heard saying, “We’re still in this.”

With 2:30 left, the ball got loose near the Stillman Valley net, but no one from Oregon could get a shot off before Sada Hughes grabbed it. Eckardt had a dead-on shot from the wing with a minute left, but it was Hughes covering it up.

“Our goalie was so focused,” McMaster said. She had improved tremendously.”

When Stillman Valley previously lost to Oregon, it was foreign-exchange student Deb Schmid that did most of the damage. This time, McMaster had a plan to keep Oregon’s leading scorer in check.

“She really took it to us and we weren’t ready,” McMaster said. “We made sure to stay with her today.”

A major disappointment for Larson was a slow start by the Hawks.

“They wanted to control balls more than we did,” Larson said. “We weren’t anticipating balls or getting ahead on passes. We needed to be more aggressive in the first half.”

Towards the end of the first half, Stender had a breakaway, but Cynthia Estrada-Rodriguez defended her. Estrada-Rodriguez was Stillman Valley’s last line of defense before the goalie and was on top of Oregon players every time they got near.

“She’s our best defender,” McMaster said. “She’s smart, quick and can play the angles.”

With two minutes left in the first half, Stender had Oregon best chance of the game thus far, but was denied by the stingy Cardinal defense.

Midway through the second half and trialing 1-0, Oregon’s Teagan Champley had an open shot on goal, but Hughes positioned herself directly in the pass of the ball for the save. Kenna Wubbena also had a shot glance off the crossbar.

“We never were able to get our game plan executed,” Larson said.

Rock Island Alleman beat Byron 4-1 in the other semifinal

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