COOS BAY — The choppy start to the season is finally starting to stabilize for the Southwestern Oregon Community College women’s soccer team.
After some unexpected coaching turnover to start the season, the Lakers are beginning to find their roles within Gina Ramirez’s system, even though a 2-1 loss Wednesday was a frustrating result against a beatable Portland team.
“It’s not the result we wanted,” Ramirez said. “We came in knowing that we can beat this team, I think we gave up a silly goal in the first half and was able to come back from that and wanted to hold them to zero goals in the second half. And unfortunately couldn’t make that happen.”
The Panthers netted a goal when Portland countered a SWOCC attack and Abby Lyda chipped a shot over goalie Erica Alfred's head in the 35th minute for what Ramirez called a “silly” goal.
“We were on the offensive,” Ramirez said. “We had momentum at that point in the game.”
The Lakers, though, responded.
Instead of becoming frustrated at is lack of success, the Lakers did what they do best: score on corner kicks.
It wasn’t the cleanest of the goals, but it was an equalizer all the same.
With a minute left in the first half, Leah Ralph stood over the corner kick from the left side and lobbed it into the box. It bounced around some, with some frantic but ineffective efforts from Lakers attackers, then bounced off a Panthers defender and into the net.
SWOCC sophomore midfielder Napua Galletes-Fernandez, from Kahuku, Hawaii, was closest and was awarded credit for the goal.
“We’ve been scoring goals off of corner kicks pretty consistently, and so any time we get a corner we know it’s a good scoring opportunity for us,” Ramirez said.
“I was just running in to do a follow up and the ball came in and I watched it go in,” Galletes-Fernandez said.
Sensing its momentum, SWOCC took the pitch with a raucous cheer just before the second half commenced, sniffing a win against the third-place Panthers.
SWOCC played evenly with the Panthers for a half hour, Alfred claimed a couple saves and SWOCC tested Portland’s keeper on several occasions.
But then came the deciding 75th minute, and it went against the Lakers.
A Portland player went down in the box and the referee awarded a penalty kick. It was a physical match with contact in either box, but this was the first time a penalty kick had been awarded and Ramirez wasn’t happy.
Her displeasure was greeted with a yellow card, and Jaqueline Silva took the kick, which ended up in the back of the net, resulting in Portland’s 2-1 victory.
“You’re gonna have to fight for everything,” the frustrated Ramirez said. “Nothing’s gonna be handed to you. Even when you play the better-looking soccer and possess and try to knock it around, you still have to put the ball in the back of the net if you want the result. We trained a lot this week on our attacking movement, how to be more dynamic on the ball. I think we saw that here, especially in the first half.”
Southwestern is home again Saturday, hosting Rogue at noon.