Sutherlin — The shortened Spring campaign showed the potential of a young Bulldog team, who threw up 78 goals in 11 games but ultimately got blown out in the state semifinals by eventual state champion St. Mary’s Medford. Almost 60% of their entire offensive output came off the leg of star Jadyn Vermillion, who is now a star at Umpqua Community College under former South Salem and USC star Whitney Pitalo alongside senior teammate Mariah Summers. Despite the losses, the Bulldogs seem more fine tuned and prepared than in the Spring, with their team finding consistency on both sides that doesn’t involve offensive annihilation to achieve.
With injuries in recent weeks, the Bulldogs have been forced to retool the team to focus more heavily on defensive efforts, and Sutherlin has found their rock solid group with Jaden Rutledge, Madison Wagner, Keely Guthrie, and Mariah Sands handling the line. In the net for the Bulldogs is stud goalkeeper Marissa Magana, who also serves as a captain and the only senior on the entire Sutherlin roster. Though these young women, Sutherlin recorded a 1-0 shutout of #7 Pleasant Hill and have allowed a total five goals in five games this season thus far. While 4A Mazama came out to a 2-0 lead on Sutherlin, the defensive effort to lock down the Vikings attack was critical to the Bulldogs salvaging a 2-2 draw to what is supposed to be a tough 4A squad this season in Mazama.
Paige Edmonson has emerged as the one filling Vermillion’s huge offensive shoes, tallying netting a six goal performance, a hat trick, and a brace this season for Sutherlin, emerging as the flaming hot star as a sophomore. Last season, she had contributing roles on offense with Vermillion, but now she runs the show and its been a beautiful painting thus far this season. Junior Captain Micah Wicks, alongside two way threats in Guthrie and Wagner have provided plenty of options for the Bulldogs offensively, along with flexibility of moving them back and forth based upon team needs in any given situation. With how young Sutherlin is this season, the future possibilities are endless on both sides of the ball, and it certainly makes them a squad to take seriously in the 3A/2A/1A race.
With all the positives, there are some things that must come before Sutherlin can be formally declared a 3A/2A/1A title contender to Catlin Gabel, a status that no one has legitimately achieved yet this season. First thing is first, the Bulldogs must be healthy and stay healthy, as a banged up Sutherlin team wouldn’t have a chance against Catlin Gabel. After that, the defense must go from good to great, limiting shots to near zero and playing the midfield game instead of letting opponents get into their territory on a consistent basis. Finally, Edmonson can be the primary option on offense, but developing the others to aid her scoring will be critical as the Eagles are sure to focus an entire game plan around neutralizing her in any way possible. These are all things that can be built on as the season goes, and if Sutherlin can implement these, we might be talking about a championship banner in Sutherlin this fall.
Footnote: Header image is from Michael Sullivan at The News-Review in Roseburg