Outlaws earn league laurels in soccer
Last updated 10/24/2023 at 10:23am
The boys soccer squad won both their games this past week and captured the league crown for the second consecutive year. They posted a 2-0 shutout at home against Pleasant Hill on Tuesday, and two days later held on for a 5-4 win at home against Creswell.
Sisters had their work cut out for them at home in their game against the Billies on Tuesday, as their coach had done his homework and knew in advance that Sisters had several offensive weapons. Pleasant Hill marked Vince Christian, the Outlaws’ biggest threat, and loaded their defense.
Coach Jeff Husmann told The Nugget that the Billies often had six to eight guys always behind the ball and put their most athletic guys in the center of their defense.
“Their plan was to gum it up in their defense and then try to counter with their one or two strikers,” said Husmann.
The Outlaws’ plan was to control the middle of the pitch with small, tight passes and move the ball into the final third. Sisters controlled possession early and they were able to identify where they had advantages. Despite the Outlaws’ momentum play was even. Sisters’ speed was an asset, but the Billies’ keeper was the best the Outlaws have faced all season.
“Their keeper is athletic, covers all corners, and likely keeps them in many games,” noted Husmann.
In the 13th minute of play, Christian lowered his shoulder into the box and drew a heavy foul, which earned a penalty kick. Christian buried it into the bottom left corner for the first score of the contest.
The Billies were physical and vocal, but Husmann stated that the Outlaws had the skill advantage, and at the half were up 1-0.
Sisters’ plan was to expose the outside space, and they began to do that midway through the second half. Austin Dean was shifted from center back to an outside midfielder to open up their defense.
“Austin is such a versatile and analytical player,” said Husmann. “He knows how to adjust and find weakness in the opposition. He is such a leader and energizer of this team.”
It was an evenly battled and strategic match until midway through the second half. Sisters gained momentum, and began to open up their defense.
With 11 minutes left in the game, Dean made a tough run down the edge of the field and provided a beautiful cross. The ball bounced out a bit from the mouth of the goal, and Carson Bell drilled it into the back of the net from 20 yards out.
Husmann said, “It was the shot we needed. It was so good to see Carson, the consummate workhorse, get the goal.”
Husmann also noted Nick Palmer for his play at outside midfield.
“Nick is getting more touches on the ball and has really figured out when to time his runs,” said Husmann. “He’s physical and is so good at driving inside to create opportunities. He wants to score so badly yet knows his job is to create opportunities for the team, which exemplifies selfless play. He’s such an asset to this team.”
Two days later the Outlaws hit the field against Creswell. Both teams were focused on a win, as the victor would claim the league crown.
Husmann said, “I talked a lot about how we needed to stay focused on our individual jobs and control our emotions both leading up to the game and when the game was underway.”
Creswell got the first score in the ninth minute and again in the 24th minute off a corner kick, and the Outlaws quickly found themselves down 0-2.
Bell got the Outlaws fired up when he crushed a shot that bent just over the keeper from 30 yards out and narrowed the Bulldogs lead 1-2. Sisters continued to hold the momentum and at the half the score remained 1-2.
The Outlaws have done a good job of making adjustments in the second half and they did just that, which resulted in a goal five minutes into the half. Austin Dean made a well-timed run down the right flanks, dribbled through defenders, and ripped a shot on goal. The ball redirected off one of the Bulldog players and went into the net to tie it up 2-2.
Husmann said, “The more unified and cohesive we played, the more frustrated and physical they were.”
Two minutes later Bell scored again when he rocketed a bending shot past the keeper for the go-ahead goal. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs evened the score in the 55th minute.
Christian, who always draws the defense to him, was fouled in the box and earned a PK. He confidently and calmly pounded the ball into the back of the net and Sisters regained the lead, 4-3.
Sisters continued to frustrate the Bulldogs’ defense and kept the pedal on the gas. The Outlaws earned a set piece about 30 yards out from the mouth of the goal, and Christian took the kick and played a dangerous ball. Danny Benson got on the end of the kick and finished beautifully to give the Outlaws a 5-3 lead.
Emotions and energy were high for both teams and in the 71st minute, when Sisters’ defense was a bit out of sorts due to a yellow card, the Bulldogs scored and narrowed the Outlaws’ lead to 5-4 with eight minutes left on the clock. Sisters held on and notched the win.
Husmann said, “I’ve coached many games, but this certainly was one of the most exciting for the fans and nerve-wracking for the coaches. What most impressed me was the poise the boys maintained throughout this contest. There are always peaks and valleys but these boys trust and believe in each other. It’s so great to see the strength of leadership, especially from our seniors in this big game. Now the work begins for our run at a state title.”