Two overtimes, two wins

Simon Linsday approached a Tidings reporter about a month ago following an Ashland High volleyball match at Mountain Avenue Gym and reported, in a soft, polite tone, that his name had been spelled wrong in the paper several times. It didn't really bother him, but his mom, he said, asked that he report the error so that it wouldn't happen again.

Linsday went a step further under the lights at North Mountain Park Tuesday, burning his name into the memory banks of Ashland soccer fans everywhere with a performance that saved the Grizzlies' season and exacted some therapeutic revenge, too.

Two gutsy shots, two goals, one playoff win. In overtime.

That's L-I-N-S-D-A-Y.

"Our coach said just go all out, this is your time to shine," Linsday said. "It was just amazing. I couldn't have asked for any better."

Ashland's lightning-quick striker scored two goals, the first with 26 minutes left in regulation and the second with 8:25 to go in overtime, as the fourth-ranked Grizzlies fought back from an early 1-0 deficit to defeat fifth-ranked Sherwood 2-1 in the second round of the OSAA Class 5A state boys soccer playoffs.

The win, which avenged Ashland's stunning second-round loss to the Bowmen a year ago, advances the Grizzlies (11-2-2) to a state quarterfinal match at Cleveland on Saturday.

"We have the potential to go a long way," Ashland senior midfielder Alex Murray said, "but we just need to be patient and take one game at a time, not get too caught up in one win."

It would be easy to get caught up in this one, especially for those Grizzlies, and there are many still here, who played key roles in last year's Ashland-Sherwood game. Ashland entered that now infamous game ranked No. — in the state, loaded with a star-studded roster, sights fixed on a state championship. But injuries, and a rain-slogged field, left the Grizzlies vulnerable and the Bowmen scored late in regulation then again in overtime to pull out the 2-1 shocker.

This time, there was no rain, the Grizzlies were healthy and instead of an intense pressure to live up to the hype, there was a little extra motivation: revenge.

"We just wanted to beat them as bad as we could, just get back at them," said Ashland junior midfielder Nate Roupp, who assisted on Linsday's first goal. "We felt like we played better last year than they did. They finished better than us (last year), and we just felt like we needed to do better this year."

Still, Sherwood (9-5-2) had the better start. The Bowmen pushed the ball into Ashland territory throughout the first half and had several good runs turned back by the Grizzlies' defense before Kameron Beeks broke through in the 15th minute. Beeks, a junior midfielder who played a key role in the 2006 game as well, outmaneuvered two Ashland defenders on the left wing, dribbled back toward the middle of the field and fired a gorgeous near-post shot that zipped past Ashland keeper Wes Overland.

Two minutes later Sherwood nearly scored again when Kyle Smurdon passed ahead to Tyler Imbrie, who was denied by Overland, one of his four saves.

The Grizzlies, who outshot Sherwood 22-13, slowly started to control the battle for field position from that point on and even got off five shots on goal before halftime, but all were saved by Sherwood keeper Quinn Hess.

That trend finally turned with 26:14 to go in the second half, when Murray sent a corner kick into the box toward Roupp and Linsday. Linsday was off on four golden scoring opportunities in the first half. On the fifth, communication was the difference.

"(Roupp) was up, so I said 'leave,' so he just kind of faked it, brought it down," Linsday said. "The keeper went to Nate, favoring Nate's height, so I just swept it in."

From further back the play looked like a unorganized mess of bodies, with the ball finally squirting out, and up, into the top of the net. Then came Linsday, streaking out of the melee, eyes big as soccer balls, fists pumping.

"That's what teammates do, they connect at good moments, and that's what Nate did," Linsday said.

With the momentum shifted in Ashland's direction, Sherwood held on for dear life to force the overtime, surviving two fantastic Grizz setups along the way. Ashland kept the pressure on in the first 10-minute OT session, but missed four shots. Then, early in the second Linsday struck again.

The game-winning play started innocently. Linsday took a pass, floated into a hole in the defense 25 yards in front, and to the left of the goal, and looked like he was preparing to pass the ball. Then, in the blink of an eye, Linsday's right leg recoiled and sprung a shot that seemed to catch everybody by surprise &

especially Hess, whose leaping attempt at a save was a fraction of a second too late.

"The whole week we told Simon to calm down when he gets in front of the goal," Ashland head coach Eisa Tiaa Tutu said. "When you come to the 18, you try to put the ball in the net. Simple."

Ashland held on from there, although it wasn't easy. Sherwood had three chances to score over the last six minutes, including a shot by Beeks that Overland caught in front of the right post.

The Grizzlies were on offense as the final seconds ticked off the clock. After Ashland's celebration, Sherwood coach Monty Hawkins gave the Grizzlies credit.

"It turned on (Linsday)," he said. "He had a lot of good looks and he delivered one there at the end and that was the difference in the game. It was an incredibly hard-fought game both ways. There wasn't a lot that separated the teams, so props to them."

Now, the Grizzlies are off to Portland to take on the Warriors, who ousted Summit 2-1. A win there would guarantee Ashland a home game in Tuesday's semifinal round against either Mountain View or Hillsboro.

For now, though, the Grizzlies can bask in a redemption one year in the making.

"The whole time through my head I remembered last year we were up one early, they came back in overtime and beat us 2-1," Ashland defender Rafael Gonzales said. "The whole time I was just hoping for the same replay, but reversed. That's pretty much what happened."

Sports editor can be reached at 482-3456 x 224 or joe.

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