On Tuesday (March 9), Siuslaw’s varsity soccer team faced off against Junction City for its sec-ond game of the season — and its first at home. The Vikings brought an improved game to the field, however the Tigers were able to dominate in the second half, eventually ending in a 2-5 loss for the Vikings.
Coach Londi Tomaro explained that her team emphasized defense in the first half, “with most of the focus on stopping the Junction City attack. We did pretty well with it and got five shots on goal from four different players.”
The Tigers managed to make two goals in the first half, but they were defended heavily by junior Kayden Lane, who made eight saves for the Vikings.
With the team down 0-2 at the half, Tomaro knew that she would have to make some changes going into the next half.
“We needed to start out the second half with a bit more attacking momentum,” said Tomaro. “We switched up our lineup and moved a player into the forward line. This additional pressure in the front worked well for us and we scored two goals to tie the game.”
The Vikings’ Yoskar De La Mora scored the first goal for Siuslaw on a breakaway.
“The goalie came out, but Yoskar got past, then ran on to the ball and kicked it — but he had to run on and kick again to score,” said Tomaro. “It was very exciting.”
Lane was able to score the second goal, again on a breakaway, but this time from a rebound off of the goalie. Lane followed the ball in and finished for the score.
Siuslaw and Junction City remained tied at 2-2 for about a third of the second half.
“We got tired, and we didn't have any subs and [Junction City] did. I think our legs just got tired,” Tomaro said. “We still we had chances; it's not that we weren't pushing up the field and taking shots at the end of the game, we were — we just weren't connecting with the net.”
Towards the end of the game, Junction City scored three more times, with goalie Derrick Vanduch making two saves on defense.
Tomaro made note of the fact that her team would have to focus a bit more on offense moving forward.
“I think some of the changes we did in the second half with moving the lineup around are things that we're going to start out doing in the future, because it gives us more of a push into the other team’s end, and a little bit more pressure on offense,” she said, adding that the team’s line-up in the first half was heavily defensive. “And as one of our players pointed out rather forcefully at halftime, you can't win games if you don't score,” added Tomaro. “You need to get bodies up in front of the goal in order to get those scoring opportunities.”
Tomaro also made mention of the fact that she would need to bring more kids over from the JV team in order to have enough subs for her varsity team to play strong for the duration of a game.
“Both teams had no subs, so it's not that I was giving more to the JV, but I think that I need to give less to the JV because they’ve won both of their games, handily,” said Tomaro. “I need some of that play to be able to come in and substitute. There are players on that team who can be varsity subs. It would just let us move things around a little bit more.”
Both Tomaro and her players are learning a great deal during their varsity debut this season. And while Tuesday’s loss hurt, the Vikings took it in stride heading into Thursday night’s match against Elmira.
“We knew going in that it was a big step up from JV, but just getting out on the field and experiencing that is a different thing altogether,” said Tomaro. “So, we're finding our feet a little bit, but we're competitive, so nobody is rolling over us easily.”
That was evident two nights later against the Falcons (March 11).
Tomaro’s Vikings were able to step up their game even further, with Siuslaw pulling out the win and smashing Elmira 4-0.
Tomaro said she expected her team to perform better against Elmira, explaining, “We knew this was more of our matchup going in, we know sort of where the teams fall out, and the different levels. So, we knew this was going to be a much better matchup for us than some of the other games.”
The Viks played strong defense in the first half, which allowed them to spend most of the time pushing up the field on offense. The first goal of the game was actually an own-goal by a an Elmira defender, who accidentally nudged the ball into the net instead of out of the field of play.
Shortly after, junior Jason Garcia was able to score a second goal for the Viks.
“[It] was a beautiful cross-goal shot by Jaxson,” Tomaro said of Jensen’s goal, which he took from the left side of the goal and across to the right side of the goal.
The Vikings had seven total shots in the first half, with Lane making two saves in the first half as well.
Siuslaw came out just as hungry in the second half, scoring two more goals. The first was put in again by Jensen, on a free kick just outside the penalty area near the corner.
“The goalkeeper almost caught it, but the ball popped out of his arms and went into the goal,” said Tomaro.
Freshman Dylan Jensen scored the fourth goal, capitalizing off a corner kick from Jaxson Jen-sen. “It was a beautifully timed shot from the Jensens,” Tomaro said, explaining how Dylan connected with the ball on the outside of his foot, redirecting it into the top right corner of the goal.
The Vikings continued executing strong offense in the second half, taking 11 shots total. Meanwhile, Vanduch held strong on defense, making four saves in the second half — including a beautiful diving block.
“It was really fun to see our team settle in and play a good passing game and give each other the space to make plays while still being in supportive positioning,” Tomaro said. “It's always exciting to win, it’s exciting to see your kids play, all of it, first home game win!”
While the teams were more evenly matched than in the previous two games, Tomaro also felt that the team performed so well because they are finally starting to sync up.
“Probably part of it was that they weren't having their first night jitters,” said the coach. “Part of it was that they really settled into their passing game, and they're really getting used to playing together.
“I think the more game time we have, the more they're going to gel, and the more they're go-ing to trust each other to play their positions and know how their teammates are going to move the ball around. And we had subs today — That makes a difference.”
Above all, Tomaro’s team is improving with each game, which is the biggest thing a coach can hope for in the first year of a new program.
The Vikings next take on Marist Catholic at home today (March 13) at 2 p.m.
As Lane County moved into the Moderate Risk category on Friday (March 12), Siuslaw soccer may have up to 150 spectators at the match, provided a health screening is completed on site.