W. Albany ousts AHS girls

It didn't take long for the tears to start flowing as the clock ran out on the Ashland girls' soccer team's season.

And after one last battle to the final minute in the numbing cold under the North Mountain Park lights, why not.

Nine seniors played their final game as Grizzlies, a 3-1 playoff loss to West Albany and a good cry temporarily drowning out the Southern Sky championship won two weeks ago.

Junior Jaclyn Silsby's goal put West Albany in front at the 25-minute mark and the Bulldogs never lost the lead, eliminating Ashland and advancing to the Class 5A quarterfinals against Bend on Saturday.

The Grizzlies finished the season at 8-7, while West Albany, the No. 2 seed out of the Mid-Willamette conference, improved the 13-4.

"We played a quality opponent and I thought it was pretty evenly matched, but we just weren't getting the breaks today," Ashland coach Eric Wolff said. "We had six or seven great shots in the second half that didn't quite go in, and on another day, maybe a couple of those are goals. But not tonight."

West Albany deflated the Grizzlies' attack early in the second half, tacking on another goal eight minutes in when Silsby got off another shot directly in front of the goal, getting her right foot loose right before being tripped up.

As she fell to the ground, she watched her second goal pepper the net to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 edge.

Eight minutes later, a Heather Case breakaway seemed to epitomize Ashland's entire night. The senior was all alone as she streaked down middle of the field, striking the ball right before being tripped up and watching Bulldog keeper Mckena King's outstretched arms tip the ball just enough to redirect it out of bounds.

On the ensuing corner kick, though, Ashland tasted their first ounce of momentum when Case came out of a scramble to score the Grizzlies' lone goal.

But a few minutes later, that momentum dried up as Jolynn Meza Wynkoop added the final score for the Bulldogs on a penalty kick that grazed the right hand of Ashland keeper Rinchen Thomas and put the game out of reach.

"I felt like the momentum was coming back right there, but we just didn't get that one extra pass and they did," Wolff said. "Once you get down early, it always changes the complexion of the game and you have to try to force opportunities. Those opportunities came too late for us tonight."

Still, Wolff said, Ashland's season has to be considered a success. The Grizzlies won the SSC with a 7-1 SSC record after getting off to a 1-5 start in preseason play.

"I saw these girls working their hearts out tonight, just like they have all year," he added. "They're not walking off the field saying they should have worked any harder. They did everything right, but unfortunately it just wasn't meant to be for them tonight."

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