Smith scores two goals as AHS takes down Mazama

Eric Wolff's Ashland girls soccer team looked far from a squad that had to struggle to get one win out of a frustrating preseason during Tuesday's conference opener.

They didn't look like a team ready to waltz away with a Southern Sky Conference championship, either, but they're working on that.

Junior forward Riley Smith got the Grizzlies on the board in the first half, and she and Chloe Deckwar added an insurance goal apiece in the second half to seal a 3-0 Ashland win at a stormy Mountain Avenue Field.

After dropping their first five games, the Grizzlies (2-5, 1-0) will try to keep their first winning streak of the year alive at Eagle Point on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

"We really needed to get off to a good start in conference matches after we got off to a pretty rough start," Wolff said, "because this is what counts, and we played like it."

Strong winds and pouring rain kept many spectators watching from their cars in the first 40 minutes, and also may have kept the game close.

As Ashland dominated possession, usually staying on the attacking side of things, the scoreboard was not quite indicative of the play on the field against a Mazama team that played most of the game with six freshmen in the lineup.

Ariana Steinberg-Hunter found Smith for a goal from straight-on 16 minutes into the contest, but the Grizzlies were unable to take advantage of 10 other shots on goal in the first half, while Mazama was limited to just three.

"We started out a little out of synch, but I think a lot of that had to do with the wet conditions and stuff," Wolff said. "The ball bounces different, slides a little differently, and it took a little while for the girls to get accommodated. It's not what we're used to, but they managed it."

Deckwar, the reigning Southern Sky Conference player of the year, struck first in the second half, dribbling in from the corner to sneak one in from eight yards out on the baseline in the 45th minute.

The senior midfielder then assisted Smith, who tacked on her second score from 10 yards out, just under four minutes later, and the Grizzlies cruised from there.

"There were some great sequences in there," Wolff said. "We're still working on fine-tuning our game, but talent-wise it looks like it's starting to come together."

The Grizzly defense aided sophomore goalkeeper Rinchen Thomas in posting her second consecutive shutout.

Wolff noted that he wasn't concerned about his team being on schedule or not with where he expected it to be at the start of league play. He was optimistic, though, that they were beginning to mesh after having a handful of games together under their belts.

"I think we're making the progress we need to be making, and we're starting to show some great stuff out there," he said. "I don't know if this is where we were planning on being at this time, but I think we're headed the right way."

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