Diaz’s Late Score Lifts South Salem Past Sprague 2-1 To Open Conference Play

Salem — While their volleyball team was facing rival West Salem inside Oly Gymnasium, boys soccer was playing their rival to the south in the South Salem Saxons at Olympic Stadium. Both teams entered their conference opener coming off victories and looking to build a winning streak entering the rest of the slate.

Sprague Strikes Early, Take The Halftime Advantage

In a match of even teams, this one was competitive throughout the game. Neither side could really break free from the other, making it come down to mistakes that allowed an opening. For Sprague, that opening came in the first 20 minutes, as a Saxons foul in the box setup a penalty kick for Issac Martin. Feeding off the momentum, Martin drilled the penalty shot past the goalkeeper, giving the Olys a 1-0 lead that would stand into the halftime break.

South Salem Repays Sprague, Take A Late Goal To Seal A Victory

The second half started well for the Saxons, who answered in the first ten minutes in the same fashion that Sprague got them earlier in the game. Alexis Luna took a penalty kick for South Salem early in the second half, and just like his rival counterpart, drilled it into the net to knot it up at 1-1.

After a hard fought second half that started to get a bit chippy, Noah Diaz gave South Salem one last bit of offensive scoring. In the 78th minute, a scramble in front of the net led to a Brody Whetzel save being put back in by Diaz, who gave the Saxons a 2-1 lead that would last to the final horn, and South Salem opened conference play with a victory over rival Sprague on the road.

Talking It Over With Diaz and Luna, Along With Olys Head Coach Barnes

At the end of a tense, hard fought rivalry game, its nice to hear both sides of the equation describe it. So, I talked it over with Saxon goal scorers Noah Diaz and Alexis Luna, along with Sprague’s Shawn Barnes.

Diaz on the late game victory, “It was a hard fought win. The first half we weren’t really playing our brand of soccer, they were playing boot ball with us and we couldn’t do much with it. When the second half rolled around, we got a pep talk from the coach and we were ready.”

Luna on the wins importance for league play, “We need to learn from our mistakes. Our Coach said that when someones in the box, there’s no need to contest for the ball, just don’t let them score. Against McNary and Summit who have higher quality players, we can’t make mistakes and we just need to enforce what we practice.”

Sprague Coach Shawn Barnes on his thoughts about the Olys performance, “I thought we played great. We possessed the ball well and played well on counter attacks. I was proud of the fact we kept the game close up until the last ten minutes, and we just failed to execute on a couple of plays near the end of the game. I’m proud of my team, we’re younger compared to most 6A programs, but they’re maturing and getting better.”

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