Eugene — The 2021 soccer season kicked off at North Eugene on Thursday, with the Highlanders hosting 4A Runner-Up Marist, Churchill, and North Bend. Although the smallest school there and losing Senior star Anna Watts to an ACL tear, Marist was undoubtedly the best one. Their offensive attacks and defensive counterattacks produced scoring opportunities via breakaways, corner kicks, and crosses in the box. Sophomores Cloe Chase and Savannah Crawford both netted goals for the Spartans, who finished with a 2-0 win over North Bend, 1-0 over North Eugene, and a 0-0 draw with Churchill. If Marist can tweak some technical things, they’ll be right back in the 4A State Championship this season.
North Eugene enters the 2021 Fall Season with high expectations, looking to position themselves into the hunt for a 5A Championship. They played strong defensively and defeated Churchill 2-0, putting in a couple solid shots and engaging defensively to limit the Lancers opportunities. Against Marist, they gave up an early netter to Savannah Crawford and couldn’t muster anything offensively versus the physical defense of Marist. They had a couple prime opportunities in front of the net, but Marist was able to recover and clear the ball out of their territory. With some more work in the non-conference schedule, the Highlanders can be a Top 10 team in 5A this season.
Churchill And North Bend’s Mixed Debut
While North Eugene and Marist showed clear signs of strength on Thursday, the Lancers and Bulldogs showed mixed signals in their games on Thursday. Churchill fell 2-0 in their opener against North Eugene, struggling to generate opportunities at the net and giving up unideal offensive opportunities. The Lancers finished scoreless on the day, having 0-0 draws with North Bend and Marist to wrap up the jamboree. Its clear that the offense needs work on generating production, but the defense adjusted down the stretch to keep a great team in Marist and a solid North Bend team off the scoreboard. If they can get going on offense, they might be a darkhorse in 5A this year.
The Bulldogs struggled on offense all day long, finding themselves unable to push the ball through a defense and make strong scoring chances. Defensively, they held Churchill scoreless and found some decent opportunities on offense, but nothing solid enough to get into the net. Marist and North Eugene pinned them on their backs, forcing them to be on the defensive fight all game long. With being on the retreat, they weren’t able to muster anything notable on offense in either match. While I still believe in the Bulldogs as a Top 10 team in 5A, but they have much work to go in order to show that potential on the field.