When you think about all the bad cards these teenagers have been dealt over the past year — losing out on all sorts of athletic and academic activities because of the coronavirus pandemic — the final score didn’t seem like the most important part on Tuesday night at Finlay Field.
Really, it was about the experience. Even with no fans in attendance due to COVID-19 protocols.
The Roseburg High School girls soccer team finally got to take the field for a game, hosting Ashland. The 2020 fall season was canceled and the Oregon School Activities Association came up with a shortened season this winter/spring.
The result of the opener, a 4-1 loss to the experienced Grizzlies, wasn’t what the inexperienced Indians were looking for. But positive vibes were seen on the faces of those who had participated in the contest on a clear, pleasant winter evening.
“It felt great,” said Maryn Wicks, one of two seniors on the Roseburg roster along with Camille Dela Cruz. “I was really nervous at first, but once I got the jitters out it was really good. It was a lot of fun.
“It was a win in my book.”
Junior Madasyn Van Acker, who scored the lone goal for the Tribe, agreed.
“It was amazing. Just getting to play is amazing,” she said. “I didn’t think I missed it as much as I actually did. When I got on the field all my nerves kicked in, but it felt awesome to be back out here.”
Roseburg, which has seven freshmen on its roster, couldn’t keep up with the Grizzlies, a seasoned Class 5A club with 12 returning players.
Ashland sophomore Ini Hammond shined on her 16th birthday, finishing with two goals and two assists. Sophomore Bri Gibbs added a pair of goals and one assist as the Grizzlies dominated possession.
“There were definitely nerves,” Roseburg coach Kristin Parks said. “A lot of girls, even the ones who had played before, were very nervous. It’s a big deal to come out here and put on a varsity uniform, especially for the ones who were starting.
“The speed of the game is different than what they’ve seen before. Ashland is very sound technically and tactically. We’ll talk about the positive and negative from what happened tonight, but we told them they should all go home and feel fine with what happened. We’re young, we’re going to grow and learn.”
Gibbs scored goals in the 37th and 39th minutes to give Ashland a 2-0 advantage at the break.
“Ashland was super good, very competitive and hard working,” Wicks said. “I think we did really well. The girls fought hard, I didn’t see anyone give up even when we got knocked around. We got our nerves under control and played a lot better in the second half.”
“Ashland was really good with their passing,” Van Acker said. “They made it seem like they played ball together since they were little kids. I think our freshmen and new people didn’t realize how aggressive it was going to be, but they got the hang of it in the second half.”
Hammond found the back of the net in the 67th and 79th minutes. Van Acker got the Tribe on the scoreboard on a free kick, booting the ball over the Ashland goalkeeper and into the net from 40 yards out in the 71st minute.
“It was crazy,” Van Acker said of the goal. “I was shooting for the goal, but meant to get it over the defense so I could get an assist. I just kicked it a little harder than I expected.”
“Maddy has a great leg,” Parks said. “She’s hungry that way, and that’ll be huge for her.”
Parks was pleased with the performance of sophomore goalkeeper Amy Carpenter, who was under constant attack by the Grizzlies and made 10 saves.
“I think she did a great job,” the coach said. “I don’t feel the majority of those goals were her fault.”
The Indians will be on the road Friday, facing Crater.
“Spreading out would be one thing (we need to work on),” Wicks said. “And communication.”