Any pressure the Crescent Valley High girls soccer team feels about being ranked No. 1 in the OSAA 5A power poll wasn’t evident on Thursday.
The Raiders (3-0-1) slammed Churchill with five first-half goals and remained unbeaten with an eventual 5-0 nonconference victory at CVHS. They have now outscored their opponents 17-1 heading into their nonleague finale against LaSalle Prep next Tuesday at CV.
Senior Nicole Moore had two goals and an assist, junior Cali McClave scored twice, junior Emma Hanson scored once and sophomore Sydney Berrey had two assists for CV. Sophomore keeper Peyton Dale had 11 saves, nine of which came in the second half when play evened up after CV coach Blake Leamy subbed out almost all of his starters.
“We’re excited” to be No. 1 among the 33 teams in the rankings, said senior centerback Isabella Schrader, anchor of the back line. “It’s definitely driving us: We think, ‘We’re placed there right now, let’s keep up that intensity.' At practice we remind ourselves we need to keep playing up to that level.
“It’s pretty early in the season and we know as people play more games the rankings will move around,” she added. "But we definitely want to get there at the end,” a quest that fell one round short in 2016 when CV fell to La Salle in the semifinals for its only loss of the season.
“Our goal is finals.”
Moore described being No. 1 as “worrisome.”
“We want to stay there but teams are after us,” she said. “If we keep playing like we are, we will stay there. There’s definitely areas to improve; our defense definitely keeps us locked down. Building out from our defense to our forwards, we’re playing as a team, which is why we’re successful.
“We’re playing together, instead of individually. [Losing in the semifinals] has been an incentive. We want to come back from that and come back better, and win it all.”
CV’s nonconference schedule took a hit earlier this month when games against 6A Central Catholic and 5A Bend were canceled because of poor air quality. Churchill didn’t help the strength of schedule, as the Lancers were ranked 31st of 33 in 5A entering the game.
However, Moore said CV controlled what it can control: its approach to the game, and its effort after the opening whistle.
“Today we said, ‘No matter what they are ranked, we have to worry about us, play our game, and that’s what we did. I would say that’s the sign of a mature team. We just needed to come out and get it done, and that’s what we did.”
The only blemish on CV’s defensive record through four games is a goal allowed in a 1-1 tie at No. 3 Marist on Sept. 14. The Raiders have blanked Churchill, North Eugene (3-0) and Mountain View (8-0).
“We have worked a lot in practice on our shape and everything back there,” Schrader said in explaining why the defense has been so stout. “Our new players have stepped into their positions well.
“We have a lot of communication on the field. We’ve had to work on that a lot since our first game to [Thursday]. That was a struggle for us. But as we talk more it just keeps getting better.”
The Raiders begin Mid-Willamette Conference play on Oct. 3 against Corvallis at CV.
“I think we are ready for it,” Leamy said. “The players are ready for it so we’re in a good spot.”
It’s rare for any coach to leave the pitch completely satisfied, however. Leamy acknowledged being pleased the Raiders “took care of business,” but said they were not as sharp as in previous games.
“We have high expectations after losing in the semifinals last year,” he said. “This year we expect to get there again, if not win it.
“We have to have higher expectations and be sharper. That’s just me being picky but that’s where we’re at.”