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COOS BAY — When the Southwestern Oregon Community College women’s soccer team finally got to play a home match, on its brand new turf, the Lakers had their best match of the season, playing to a 1-1 draw with Clackamas on Saturday.

“They played better,” said SWOCC coach Gina Ramirez. “It felt more like a team effort than in the past.”

The Lakers got a goal in first-half stoppage time by Cacia Larsen and strong defense throughout.

“We definitely worked more together,” said Erica Alfred, who started the match as a defender and then switch to goalie in the second half after Shaleen Tolbert came out of the match after taking a hit to the shin during a save.

After Clackamas got an early goal by Jordan McLeod on an assist by Alicia Hinojosa-Vejar in the 13th minute, the Lakers kept the Cougars off the scoreboard.

Alfred was tested almost immediately after coming in, making a diving save at full extension on a Clackamas shot. She added four more saves, to go with 11 by Tolbert.

That Alfred did well when she moved to goal wasn’t a surprise. She’s one of three players on the roster who came to the Lakers as goalkeepers.

“She’s talented,” Ramirez said. “Having her come in as keeper is exceptional.”

Alfred said she has been trying to help the Lakers however necessary.

“I’ve been a goalie 11 or 12 years,” she said. “It’s natural for me.”

But Ramirez needed help in the field and Alfred was happy to spend time on the pitch as a defender.

She’s not by any means the only player who has moved around.

“With injuries, we’ve had to move a lot of people around,” Ramirez said. “They all stepped up and did a good job.”

Another of the key defenders is a newcomer to the squad, North Bend graduate Haley Snelgrove.

“She’s meshed great with the girls,” Ramirez said, adding that Snelgrove has great soccer knowledge and is athletic. “She’s been a fantastic addition.”

Snelgrove, who only decided recently to attend SWOCC, joined the team about two weeks ago. But the North Bend graduate quickly fit in with the Lakers.

“Having Haley in the back is good,” Alfred said. “She’s fast.”

Snelgrove said Saturday was the best the Lakers have played in the matches since she joined the squad.

“We’ve been really working on connecting and finding each other and not being selfish,” she said.

While the Lakers were stronger on defense, they also had a better match on offense.

“We had more opportunities in the attacking end than we’ve have,” Ramirez said. “It’s good to see that.”

The Lakers put up enough shots that Clackamas goalie Maria Calderon finished the match with 13 saves, several great ones coming in the final 15 minutes.

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One came on a shot from near point-blank range, but the best came in the 80th minute, when the Lakers were awarded a penalty kick for a foul in the box. Calderon blocked the PK by Alanna Smith and also saved a rebound shot on the play.

While the Lakers would have loved a win, the end result of the match was a draw, which was SWOCC’s first non-loss of the season after the Lakers fell in their first four NWAC South Region matches and first six matches overall (Clackamas also is 0-4-1 in league play).

“Earning a point is a positive,” Ramirez said, referring to the on point the Lakers got in the standings for the draw (teams get three points for wins). “It gives us something to build on.”

Alfred agreed.

“I think it amps us up and gets us going,” she said. “This is how we need to play to get a draw or a win.

“I hope this is a start to something big.”

The other big part about Saturday’s match was the location.

The Lakers finally played a match at home after spending all of the preseason borrowing North Bend High School’s field while waiting for the new pitch to be installed, work that was done only in time for the team to get two practices on it before the home opener.

And a number of students were supporting them, including the men’s team and members of the swimming squad.

“It’s amazing,” Alfred said of the turf. “We waited all summer for this.

“It’s nice to be home, and having a bunch of people come support us. It was amazing.”

The Lakers will be home again Wednesday, as part of a doubleheader with the men’s team.

The women will face Chemeketa at 1:30 p.m., followed by the men against Clark at 4 p.m.

Volleyball

SWOCC’s volleyball team split its weekend matches, losing at Chemeketa on Friday before beating Clackamas on Saturday for the Lakers’ first South Region win.

Chemeketa swept the Lakers 25-18, 25-20, 25-19.

Andria Santoyo and Akayla Young had eight kills each for the Lakers and Tayler Parks had six. Shay Zener had 11 digs and Santoyo 10 and Sydney Colledge had 20 assists.

That marked four straight losses to start the league season for the Lakers, but they bounced back Saturday, coming back from two sets down to beat the Cougars 20-25, 20-25, 26-24, 25-20, 15-11.

“It was a great win to start some more wins,” SWOCC coach Stephanie Willett said.

Parks and Amanda Clark had 14 kills in the win and Santoyo added 12. Colledge had 30 assists and Natalie Sale 14. Zener had 24 digs and Santoyo 20, while Nika Krivoshein had 16.

The Lakers are back home this week, hosting Linn-Benton on Friday and Lane on Saturday.

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