Owls end Raiders' season

After four years of happiness and heartache, highs and lows, the seniors on the SOU women's soccer team needed another 20 minutes together after its 1-0 loss to the Oregon Tech Wednesday at University Field.

Seniors Judi Dietz, Melanie Hopkins, Brei McCoy and Chesney McHan stood together, and with tears in their eyes, bid farewell to the team and sport they lived for over the past four years.

"It's been such an amazing experience playing with them," said Dietz, one of the Raider captains. "Soccer has been my whole world, but these are my friends. We've seen each other through everything."

It was only fitting then that the four seniors who helped bring stability to the Southern soccer program were the last ones off the field, seeing each other through one more hard time. The Raiders, needing a win to qualify for the Cascade Conference playoffs, looked to pull out all the stops on senior night, but fell to a late scoring attack from the Owls.

A deadlocked battle that went down to the last 10 minutes ended up going against the Raiders when Owl defender Sharon Hernandez slipped behind the defensive line on a corner kick and fired an uncontested shot into the Raider goal. That score in the 83rd minute proved to be the deciding factor in a back and forth contest that could have gone either way.

"We had chances three, really good chances to score. If we make those we're up 3-0 and it's a different story," SOU head coach John Clement said. "I wouldn't say there was a lack of anything from us, they just go against you sometimes."

The Raiders came out on the offensive to start the game. Good passing and defense stifled the Owls, and put the Raiders in a position to control the contest. Early trips to the other team's net resulted in zero Raider points, as Owl goalie Jaclyn Unruh saved four of nine shots.

Going into the break, both teams knew what needed to be done. The Owls, lucky to survive the offensive attack, came out determined to spoil any Raider playoff chance. Southern, confident in their momentum and performance, prepared to convert their opportunities into scores.

Both teams picked up where the left off in the first half, and the seesaw possession battle continued. The scoring drought from the first half followed both teams as well, as both squads missed oh-so-close shots early in the action. Southern midfielder Sara Switzer had a header whizz just left of an open net on a corner kick 10 minutes into the half. Not to be outdone, Owl forward Sarah Brown took the ball down field and had a 50-foot shot clang off the crossbar and over the Southern goal.

Things went back and forth until the corner kick that sealed the game. As the buzzer sounded and cheers erupted from the Owl bench, the Raiders slowly circled up around Clement. The seniors, Dietz, McCoy, McHan and Hopkins stood and shared last hugs and cries with teammates. One by one the other players filter off towards the locker room, leaving the four alone to think about their careers and the team.

"We've been so fortunate to play with our friends and in front of our family," Hopkins said. "It's such a tough way to end a career, like this "&


"They've done so much these four years," Clement said. "They put time, effort, and emotion into this program. Sooner or later though, this ends, and its sad. You hope to be on top, but obviously only one team can do that. These girls played well today they always play well."

As the season comes to an end for soccer team, the future looks bright. The Raiders return seven starters from this year's squad, and 17 players overall. Dietz believes the sky is the limit for this team in the future.

"There's so much potential, this team is only going to be better next year," she said. "They are so good, and I wish I had just one more year to play with them."

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