COQUILLE — The combined Coquille-Myrtle Point soccer team has been getting better through the season, as a group of freshmen and a group of girls who joined the team because they didn’t have enough players for their own squad got more experience and confidence playing with the veterans.
The DevilCats got their biggest win of the season Monday in dramatic fashion when Ruendy Indalecio converted a penalty kick in the final 40 seconds for a 3-2 victory over visiting Sutherlin.
“This is an excellent win,” said senior Jose Medina, one of the players on the squad from Myrtle Point and the leader of the DevilCats’ defense. “It’s a great accomplishment.”
Sutherlin, the league’s third-place team, had beaten the DevilCats 3-0 in their earlier meeting.
“My team played really well,” said Indalecio, who had two of the goals. He added that the newcomers to the squad were a little intimidated in the first meeting with the veteran Bulldogs, who boast 12 juniors and seniors on the roster. The DevilCats have five seniors, including Sydney Sefers, one of the girls, but also seven freshmen.
“We played how we were supposed to (today) and we won,” Indalecio said. “We’ve played really well as a team and as individuals.”
Sutherlin scored first Monday, on an own goal by the DevilCats, but Coquille evened the score just before halftime when Jaylyn Rayevich, another of the girls, got to a loose ball and chipped it in over Sutherlin’s goalkeeper.
Sutherlin went back in front nine minutes into the second half, when Garrett Edwards scored on a corner kick by teammate Trevin Wattman.
The DevilCats had a great chance to tie the match in the 57th minute, when Luke Donaldson got a kick by Sutherlin’s goalie, but Sutherlin defender Oston Connors cleared the ball just before it could get into the goal.
But Indalecio tied the match in the 59th minute when he chipped a ball over the goalie. Both goalies had good saves over the next few minutes — Layne Moore of the DevilCats slid to stop several Sutherlin shots — and the match was headed for a draw until the Bulldogs were called for a handball in the box with 38 seconds to go.
Indalecio converted the penalty kick for the game-winner, knocking it into the upper corner of the net.
“I thought their keeper was going to go down (to try to stop the shot) and I went up,” he said.
Medina, Moore and the rest of the Coquille defense did the rest.
“I thought we played great,” Medina said. “We worked as a team. We switched when we had to. We communicated well.”
Don Swenson, the DevilCats coach, said the team is using its third different defense and has found a good rhythm.
Medina is playing the sweeper and is flanked by Bailey Higgins, another of the girls, on his right and Angel Rodriguez, one of the freshmen, on his left. Trace Edwards is playing in front of Higgins and Marco Rodriguez in front of Angel Rodriguez.
“Trace and Bailey work so well together,” Swenson said, adding that the same is true on the other side of the pitch.
The biggest thing, Swenson said, is the players understand their positions well and are letting Medina take care of the middle of the field with his outstanding speed.
“Our team is playing the spacing now,” he said.
Medina said the veterans have adjusted to the new team dynamic, including the five girls on the squad well.
“The girls made our team better,” he said. “I think we are doing good. We are going to push to try to get a few more wins.”
Coquille improved to 5-5 in Class 3A-2A-1A District 4 and has three of its final four matches at home, starting with Glide, another coed team, on Thursday. The Wildcats edged the DevilCats 1-0 back on Sept. 24.
After a trip to Gold Beach, the DevilCats close against the league’s top two teams, Umpqua Valley Christian and Brookings-Harbor.
Sutherlin fell to 7-3 and next plays Brookings-Harbor at home and Umpqua Valley Christian on the road.
UMPQUA VALLEY CHRISTIAN 6, GOLD BEACH 0: The Monarchs improved to 8-2 and moved into sole possession of second place after Sutherlin’s loss to the DevilCats.
Both of the Monarchs’ losses have come at the hands of Brookings-Harbor and they recorded their fourth shutout in the win.
BOOMERS BEAT COQUILLE: Toledo handed Coquille its first loss in two seasons in the Sunset Conference, topping the visiting Red Devils in four sets Monday, 25-23, 25-20, 18-25, 25-17.
“Toledo played really well and we didn’t have a standout (match),” Coquille coach Suzanne Grami said.
Coquille hadn’t lost a league match in any league since 2016 — they went unbeaten in league play in their final season in the Mountain Valley Conference before joining the Sunset Conference last fall.
Coquille still is in control of the league at 8-1, a game in front of Reedsport, but with a sweep of the Brave. Toledo, meanwhile, kept alive a chance to catch up with Reedsport in the race for second place, improving to 6-3.
Drew Wilson had 27 assists and 10 digs for Coquille in the loss. Ellie Ekelund had 13 kills, nine digs and two aces. Saige Gallino added 10 kills, 14 digs and three aces; Hailey Combie had seven kills and four stuff blocks; Spencer Gallino had two kills, eight digs and three aces; Mariah Jarrett had 15 digs; and Gabby McCrory had four kills and two blocks.
Coquille hadn’t lost more than a set in a league match in the past two years. They lost two sets in a match against Creswell in their final year in the Mountain Valley Conference.