Ashland wins in overtime

EUGENE — A tougher-than-expected opponent wasn't enough to stop the Ashland High boys soccer team.

Locked in a scoreless overtime battle with host North Eugene, the Grizzlies notched a goal in the 81st minute on a penalty kick to win 1-0 in a Class 5A boys soccer quarterfinal game Friday night.

Less than a minute had elapsed in the first 10-minute overtime session when Ashland's Nate Roupp took a pass near the top right corner of the box. The senior halfback put the ball in front of him and attacked, dribbling through the defense toward the goal and forcing North to stop him.

The result was a foul that set up the penalty kick, which Roupp took himself, shooting low to his left as goalkeeper Adam Knight went the other way.

"I was scared on that PK worse than I've ever been before," Roupp said. "I just knew I had to hit it. I went one way hoping the keeper wouldn't go that way and he didn't."

It was an unexpected effort by the Highlanders, said Ashland coach Brad Roupp, who watched North beat Madison 3-0 on a slow, muddy field in a second-round playoff game Tuesday.

"We thought they weren't very aggressive players," Brad Roupp said. "Then the game started and we all looked at each other and said, 'Wait a minute, we got the wrong team.' North was the strongest side that we've played all year. They were the aggressors much of the time as far as going to the ball and they played tremendous defense."

"I didn't expect it to be this much of a battle," Nate Roupp admitted. "But they were a great team and they fought hard. I haven't played against a team that fought that hard this year."

It was the first time in the history of the program that North (11-5-1) had reached the third round of the playoffs, Highlander coach Salvador Barajas said.

"It's hard to lose like that, especially in a big game," said Barajas, who guided North to a second-place finish in the Midwestern League this season. "But I'm proud of my boys. Unfortunately there has to be a winner and a loser."

The loss marred what was an otherwise strong game by North's defense, especially Knight, who made save after sensational save until he was put in the difficult position of having to stop a point-blank attempt from 12-yards away.

North got off four shots in the final 19 minutes of overtime that Grizzlies' goalkeeper Wes Overland was able to save.

"Our defense was as close to perfect as a defense can be," Brad Roupp said. "North Eugene had a strong defensive unit themselves so we had shot opportunities, but not the quality shots that we like to take."

Ashland (14-1-1), the Southern Sky Conference champion, will play the winner of today's game between Glencoe and Sherwood in a semifinal match on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Ashland Middle School.

"It was special because the boys truly felt the victory in this one," Brad Roupp said. "This was a quarterfinal match, and there were a bunch of hungry Grizzles fighting for a win."

The Eugene Register-Guard contributed to this report.

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