Raiders look to finish strong at La Grande

An up-and-down season will come to a close for the Southern Oregon football team Saturday at Eastern Oregon, but that doesn't take away the importance of the final game.

The Raiders (3-6) and Mountaineers (4-6) square off at noon.

"We look at this a chance for the first win of next year," SOU coach Steve Helminiak said. "We try to build on this game. We want to end on a positive and begin to build for next year."

After winning back-to-back games, the Raiders ran into trouble early last week at NCAA Division I South Dakota and fell 37-0 to the Coyotes.

"Three turnovers right in a row to start the game says it all," Helminiak said. "Once we settled down and started playing some football we did all right, but it was too late."

Eastern Oregon comes into the game on a two-game losing streak after falling to Rocky Mountain and top-ranked Carroll College. One of the highlights for 2008 for the Mountaineers was an impressive, 42-14 home victory over Montana State-Northern.

"They are going to be a typical Eastern team," Helminiak said. "They are going to play hard and create opportunities. They force turnovers and make big plays on special teams and rally around that. If you don't line up and play, they will beat you."

The Mountaineers have stars on both sides of the ball. Seth Kimball and Chris Ware both rank in the top 13 in the nation in tackles-for-loss, and quarterback Chris Ware averages 223 yards per game in the air and 41 on the ground.

For the Raiders, SOU senior running back Marlon Rosales needs 108 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. If he gets it, it will mark the first time a Raider back has done so since Dusty McGrorty in 2000-03.

It will be the last game for 18 SOU seniors.

Women's Soccer

Four members of the Southern Oregon women's soccer team have been named to Cascade Conference all-star team.

Sophomore Auika Muragin, freshman Katie Griffith, sophomore Chelsie O'Neill and freshman Stacy Hamer earned accolades.

The Raiders finished the season 9-10 overall and 7-3 in league and advanced to the conference semifinals for the first time in program history.

Muragin was the lone Raider on the first team. She was a key factor on a defense that recorded six shutouts. She also had two assists and six shots on goal.

Griffith scored three goals and was second team. She also led SOU in shots (42) and shots on goal (19), and all three of her goals were game-winners.

O'Neill and Hamer received honorable mention. O'Neill had a team-high four goals and also had 14 shots on goal. Hamer had three goals and eight shots on goal.

Women's Basketball

Big nights by seniors Kellyn Cooper and Rhiannon Dickison helped lead the 19th-ranked Southern Oregon women's basketball team to a 64-61 overtime victory over Fresno Pacific in the first round of the William Jessup Invitational in Rocklin, Calif., Friday.

The Raiders are now 3-0 on the season and faces host William Jessup Saturday night. Fresno Pacific dropped to 2-1 on the season.

"It was a hard fought game," SOU head coach Lynn Kennedy said. "It seemed really ugly, but we fought through it and got the victory."

The Raiders led 30-28 at the half, before Fresno Pacific caught fire in the second half and took a six point lead with three minutes to play in regulation.

SOU fought back to tie it with under a minute to play and then forced a turnover with 13 seconds left to give themselves a chance to win. But junior Whitney Scott missed a jumper from the free throw line at the buzzer and the game went into overtime.

In overtime, Fresno Pacific jumped out to a four point lead before SOU again came back. Cooper scored and converted the free throw for a three-point play to give SOU the lead for good at 62-60 with 1:16 to play in overtime.

Cooper finished with a team-high 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting. She also added six rebounds. Dickison finished with 16 points and three 3-pointers.

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