COOS BAY — Not often do both teams walk away from a scoreless tie and feel like they got away with one.
So was the case after Tuesday’s Civil War boys soccer match, when the visiting North Bend Bulldogs and Marshfield Pirates played to a scoreless draw at Pete Susick Stadium. It was the second time this season the teams played a full 80 minutes without a goal and keeps them tied for second place behind undefeated Brookings-Harbor in the Far West League standings. The Pirates and Bulldogs both have league records of three wins, one loss and three ties.
The goalies both were strong in tricky conditions given the wet artificial surface at the stadium.
“(August Baker) for North Bend, brilliant day. Stood on his head,” Pirates coach Drew Jones said. “Jose (Ramirez) had a couple of his own. Goalkeeping was huge today. And really — either team — on this surface, on a slick surface it’s one thing that squirts through. Both teams had chances from it.”
Marshfield’s defense presented a challenge for the North Bend, which has been trying to straighten out its offense.
It took a couple of truly spectacular saves from Baker, though, to keep Marshfield off the board. In the 31st minute, Marshfield midfielder Christian Milan found striker Tommy Nguyen on a through pass, and Nguyen took a shot from about 25 yards that was right on target. Baker leaped to get enough of a touch to deflect the ball off the crossbar.
In the second half, Pedro Casas got a clean look from inside the box and it took a diving save from Baker to keep it out. Both times the Bulldogs cleared the ensuing corner kick without trouble.
“We didn’t give ‘em very many shots, but the shots they took they had great shots,” Bulldogs coach Kirk Wicks said. “Like I preach every game and all this time, I think we have the best keeper in the state.”
But that wasn’t the only good performance in goal on the night. Marshfield’s Ramirez kept the Bulldogs out of the net with similar strong goal play. North Bend senior Isaac Reyna consistently tested Ramirez from range, but Ramirez was disciplined and stayed on his spot.
The Bulldogs began to get desperate in in the final 15 minutes or so, and Marshfield couldn’t get a good countering opportunity off it.
This left North Bend to try shot after shot, but Ramirez stood firm.
“When you’re playing with only two or three guys up there, it makes it hard,” North Bend senior Graham Lyons said. “But it increases the passing game and it gives us more opportunities.
“We were just talking about how proud we are of our team. There is no argument that we controlled the game, we were first to it.”
For North Bend, it was an improvement from its earlier form that left it disappointed and searching for answers after the loss scoreless draw at Vic Adams Field.
Tuesday night saw the Bulldogs largely control possession and get into dangerous areas regularly, it just needs to find the net.
“We definitely controlled the field a lot more than they did,” Reyna said.
“A lot of our players up there are new, a lot of our bench is new,” Lyons said. “It doesn’t just zaps in how to play on the field like that. But they’ve advanced faster than I would’ve hoped.”
For Marshfield, the draw keeps it in the tie for second place. Whichever team ends in that spot will get a home match in the Class 4A play-in round.
“We had chances against a really good team,” Marshfield sophomore Miguel Flores said. “We’re trying to hold that second place, which is what we’re aiming for.”
Because the two teams now have three ties, Brookings-Harbor (9-0-0) has clinched a share of the league title with three matches still to go.
North Bend visits the league-leading Bruins on Thursday while Marshfield is at South Umpqua.