Deckwar, Grizzlies topple Comets

It was clear from the first whistle that it wasn't going to be easy for Crater and Ashland players alike to stay on their feet at a rain-soaked Mountain Avenue Park on Tuesday night.

When it was over, though, the Grizzlies had held their ground atop the Southern Sky Conference girls soccer standings. And that was all that really mattered.

Chloe Deckwar scored two overtime goals as Ashland scored its second 2-0 overtime win over Crater this year, clinching the SSC championship and top seed going into the Class 5A playoffs.

"Best game I think I've ever played in," said Deckwar, still huffing and puffing after the 100-minute contest. "What a way to end conference for all our seniors; it was perfect."

The senior forward's first goal came seven minutes into the extra frame, as Grizzly midfielder Riley Smith was able to cross the ball and connect with Deckwar from close range on the side of the goal. Deckwar slipped by her defender and used her left foot to finish.

"(Ashland coach Eric Wolff) always tells us to run to the corner in that situation, so I did," Deckwar said. "I was there and just barely slipped it in, but it got right behind the goalie and I was just so excited when I saw the ball hit the net."

The Grizzlies (8-6) finished the loop schedule with a 7-1 record after previously dropping five of their six nonconference matches. They'll host the second seed from the Mid-Willamette Conference when the postseason begins.

Crater, which needed to win out to force a first-place tie, fell to 5-2 in the SSC and will finish league play with Eagle Point on Saturday.

"I told Crater's coach before the game, 'Should we even bother playing regulation? Let's just go straight to overtime,'" Wolff said. "These teams always battle, though, and that was fun to watch."

Both teams had their chances to put the game away in regulation. Midway through the first half, Ashland goalkeeper Rinchen Thomas stopped a shot on goal, but slipped and let the ball go through her legs only to have it stop a few feet short of the goal.

A few minutes later, Thomas made another stop but fell victim to the slippery field again as her momentum took her away from the ball and put her on her side. With the ball still a couple feet from the goal, Ashland senior Carolyn Thomas slid in to kick it away.

The Grizzlies' best chance came on a Heather Case breakaway minutes later, but her shot bounced off the crossbar to leave the teams in a deadlock.

The game took a more physical turn in the second half, as both teams looked more willing to take a penalty than give up ground.

"We know we can count on the defense no matter what," Deckwar said. "They kept us in the game when we couldn't get anything going towards the goal, and Rinchen was just our rock back there at goalie. She is just spectacular."

Deckwar tacked on her second goal from straight on three minutes before play ended. Her shot ricocheted off a defender's shin and sent arms across the Ashland sideline into the air in celebration.

"I mean, look at these girls celebrating," Wolff said with a championship-sized grin. "That's what it's all about. I'm just an innocent bystander."

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