Siuslaw soccer powers on through first varsity season

Siuslaw junior goalkeeper Kayden Lane (96) thwarts a scoring attempt by Marist. Lane had 7 saves for the Vikings. (photo by Ned Hickson/Siuslaw News)

This past week, the Siuslaw soccer team played two hard-fought matches that offered valuable learning experiences for the first-year varsity team.

On Saturday (March 13), the Vikings took on Marist at home. The Spartans were able to take the win 4-0, however Siuslaw coach Londi Tomaro had many positive notes about the match.

“I was happy with Saturday’s game for the most part,” said Tomaro. “We knew Marist would be a very strong opponent and that we would have to work hard to even get chances in front of the net.”

Tomaro was also grateful for the opportunity to play a stronger team, as it would allow her as well as her players the chance for growth as a unit.

“It is always good to play a team that is at a higher level because it makes you step up your game,” said Tomaro, “and it gives you a visual of what you can aspire to be so every person on the team can see what we are working toward.”

In the first half, Marist was able to secure three goals, with Kayden Lane saving four additional shots taken by the Spartans.

“We managed to get the ball into their end and in front of the goal several times in the first half,” with the Vikings getting off seven shots — including a nice one-touch off of a corner kick that the Marist keeper saved.

In the second half, Siuslaw got the ball down in the attacking third a few times but was not able to get off any shots. Marist scored one goal in the half, with Lane making three saves in the second half.

“We were exerting enough pressure throughout the game that the Marist defense was clearing the ball out instead of moving it back up the field. Marist played a strong passing game and moved the ball around very well,” said Tomaro, who explained that during portions of the game, the team was able to maintain pressure and mark the open passing targets to disrupt the flow of Marist’s momentum.

“However, during other portions of the game, we were marking the ball instead of the players,” said Tomaro. “That leads to unnecessary running and our players tiring more quickly.”

Despite the loss, Tomaro was proud of her team’s efforts, explaining, “Our team played the game that I hoped they would play. They passed and worked together and played effective defense.”

Then, on Tuesday (March 16), the Vikings went on the road to play Cottage Grove. The Lions, who are one of the more seasoned teams in the Sky-Em League, roared their way to eight goals, with the Vikings scoring zero.

The Vikings struggled partially because they had players out for the match, so they were forced to compete with no subs — which was not an issue for Cottage Grove. Maintaining sufficient subs for her team has been an issue in previous games. So, after Tuesday’s match, Tomaro made the decision to merge her JV and varsity teams into one varsity team.

“Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to maintain a high intensity game with that imbalance,” explained Tomaro. Us a result of merging the teams, the final JV game has been canceled, with the JV players now merged into the varsity squad for the remainder of the season.

In the first half against The Lions, Lane made 7 saves, with the Lions scoring 4 goals while taking a total of 18 shots against The Viks. In the second half, Lane made 4 saves, with the Lions scoring 4 more goals on 14 attempts. Cottage Grove’s final goal was scored on a penalty kick for a handball in the box.

According to Tomaro, Siuslaw got some chances in front of the net and came close to scoring, with Jason Garcia and Dylan Jensen as notable players on offense.

Again, Tomaro expected that the match to be challenging, noting the amount of experience at the varsity level being a key factor to her team’s performance.

Fortunately, this first season as a varsity team is allowing the Vikings the time needed to gain experience at this level.

Overall, Tomaro said she is proud of the efforts her team has shown despite the fact that this first season as a varsity team has been difficult.

“They played hard throughout their game,” Tomaro said. “We didn't give up on offense — we continued to press the ball into the Cottage Grove end and we attempted to get shots right up to the end. The defense played with great focus and intensity during every scoring attempt.

“There are definitely things we can work on but, overall, I'm proud of our team for maintaining their effort and enthusiasm.”

Thursday night (March 18), the Vikings got a re-match at Marist, with the Spartans taking an 8-0 win.

Siuslaw plays again this Tuesday, when the Viks host Marshfield beginning at 6:30 p.m.