CANYONVILLE — The Canyonville Christian Academy Pilots took a defensive stand against St. Mary’s of Medford in Wednesday’s Special District 5 boys soccer game, but ultimately gave up four goals in the second half and lost 4-0.
“We played really well,” CCA coach Ian Garrett said. “St. Mary’s is the No. 3 team in the state. Keeping them 0-0 until halftime is exactly what we’re trying to do.”
Canyonville Christian Academy (6-4-1, 5-3-1 District 5) goalkeeper Cherokee Lester was able to keep the ball out of the net throughout the first half.
“I feel like I did pretty good, but could’ve done a bit better because the mud is sticking on my shoes and it’s hard to move,” Lester said. “But I gave it 110 percent and I’m proud of my teammates.”
Lester, who’s a first-year soccer player, used the entire penalty box to keep St. Mary’s (9-1, 9-0) from scoring.
“We’re encouraging him to be more aggressive in the box and in taking care of his area,” Garrett said.
The basketball and cross country runner got help from the entire CCA team as they spent the majority of their time playing defense, with a few fast breaks on offense.
“Elijah (Sandrali) in center-midfield did a lot of work back and forth,” Garrett said. “Everybody did a great job and did what they’re supposed to. St Mary’s is a great team but everybody played really well today.”
In the 34th minute of the game CCA’s Pascal Hagenimana made an attempt at the goal that was averted by the Crusader goalkeeper.
“Pascal always does a great job,” Garrett said. “On defense and then on offense he had that breakaway in the first half that unfortunately he wasn’t able to put away.”
The Pilots’ team is made up off players from nine different countries — Columbia, Rwanda, Congo, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and America — and team manager Mussie Kidane hails from Ethiopia.
Because of the international makeup of the team the team has very little time to get ready in the preseason.
“We came in and we had two practices before our first game,” Garrett said. “We try to keep the score low, keep it 0-0 for as long as possible, in hopes of then making a few changes and putting in some more offense.”
The Crusaders broke through early in the second half when Andrew Michels scored for St. Mary’s in the 45th minute.
Hunter Holdermann scored the second goal off a free kick near the Pilots’ goal in the 60th minute.
“Once they got a couple goals it kind of opened things up a little bit,” Garrett said. “I think we got a little bit tired.”
Down 2-0, the Pilots started to play more offense and relaxed their tight defense.
Luka Cvijanovic took advantage of the new strategy for the Crusaders and found the back of the net in the 65th and 71st minutes to secure the win.
“St Mary’s is a good team, but we had a really good effort, a really proud effort,” Garrett said.
The Pilots travel to Port Orford to play Pacific at noon Saturday.