Corvallis — In Saturday’s state quarterfinal matchup between the Churchill Lancers and Corvallis Spartans, the Lancers entered looking to continue their push to back to back state championship appearances. However, they would have to maneuver past a stiff Spartans defense to accomplish it, and their offensive control provided them enough opportunities to overcome the challenge presented by Corvallis.
Churchill was off and running early on in this quarterfinal match, as the Lancers had fired a couple of opportunities at the net before getting a boost of momentum on the scoreboard. In the eighth minute, a beautiful entry pass by Sela Freeman was executed into a header goal by Captain Emmi Freeman, getting the Lancers ahead 1-0 early in this one. Churchill continued to wrack up opportunities, gaining four or five corner kicks in the first half alone and spending a lot of time in Spartans territory. With time winding down in the first half of action, a botched play by the goalkeeper allowed Harmony Simmons to swoop in and drill the goal to make it a 2-0 Lancers lead entering halftime, a blow to a Corvallis defense that had been under pressure the entire half.
Just like in the first half, Churchill came out firing and forcing plays in Corvallis territory, upping their corner kick total to seven by the 48th minute where Emerenciana Reyes blooped a floater over the head of the goalkeeper to make it 3-0 Lancers early in the second half. With a 3-0 lead, the pace turned into an increasingly more conservative one, opening the door for some prime Corvallis opportunities. The Spartans had one opportunity with around 30 minutes left that went off the crossbar, and another a couple of minutes later that was a goal negated by an offsides call, delivering another blow to an already struggling Corvallis offense. Finally, Daisy Rodriguez came to the rescue, delivering a goal on a gorgeous free kick to cut it to a 3-1 deficit with 13 minutes remaining. Corvallis was aggressive the rest of the way, delivering numerous challenges to the Churchill defense, but the Lancers held them off to take home the 3-1 victory and a trip to the state semifinals against the winner of West Albany-Wilsonville.
With a ticket punched to the Final Four, goal scorers Emerenciana Reyes, Harmony Simmons, and Emmi Freeman talked about the offensive and defensive execution, along with adjustments for the semifinals.
Emerenciana Reyes on improvements for the state semifinals: “I think communication for sure. We could also use more fast balls and just work together as a team. We struggled when we played Crescent Valley, but we’ve gotten better and learned from our mistakes, and we’ve just got to keep working hard and improving until we get to where we want to be.”
Harmony Simmons on the offensive execution: “We knew that we had to play more wide because if we tried to play in the center they would shut us down, and ultimately it was really those through balls on the side and just making sure to follow the ball all the time.”
Emmi Freeman on the defensive game plan: “We honestly just wanted to get every ball out. We have a tendency to get down after we get scored on, so keeping the defense hyped up because they are a solid line when they are and they’re just beasts when they are.”