After disposing of Providence (Mont.) with its NAIA-leading 10th shutout and getting all the help it needed around the Cascade Conference on Friday evening, the Southern Oregon men's soccer team is suddenly a win away from its first berth in the NAIA Championships.
The Raiders (10-6-1 overall) upped their CCC record to 10-1-1 with a 2-0 victory over the Argos, using goals from Esteban Castaneda and Zac Hansen and a defense that remained unflappable at Raider Stadium. They entered the night in second place, but sixth-ranked Rocky Mountain dropped to 10-1-1 with a tie at Evergreen while No. 11 Corban went to 9-1-2 with a tie at Warner Pacific.
The Raiders host Carroll (Mont.) at 5 p.m. today, the final day of the regular season. If they and Rocky end up CCC co-champions, the Raiders would have the tiebreaker — giving them the No. 1 seed in the CCC Championships and the conference's first of two bids to the national tournament — based on the head-to-head result. If Corban, SOU and Rocky end up in a three-way tie, the Raiders would also likely own that tiebreaker based on allowing the fewest goals in CCC play. And if Corban and SOU end up in a two-way tie for first, Corban owns that tiebreaker.
Castaneda put the Raiders in front of Providence for good in the 16th minute, scoring his team-leading fifth goal of the season after picking up a ball that bounced around in the box and lining up a nine-yard strike.
In the 76th, Kelly Gieber's corner kick from the left side set up Hansen's a header in front of the goal. Hansen tallied for the second time this season and the assist was Gieber's sixth.
SOU out-shot the Argos, 15-8, and Wyatt Zabinksi picked up four saves for the shutout.
The Raiders have blanked their last six opponents since a 2-0 loss at Corban — they've yet to give up a goal in October — and nine of their last 10.
Carroll will enter today's matchup with a 5-7 CCC record following a 4-0 loss at Oregon Tech on Friday, and is still fighting for a spot in the conference tournament. Rocky plays at Northwest (7-4-1) and Corban plays at Eastern Oregon (5-6-1).
The Southern Oregon women's soccer team reserved a spot in the Cascade Conference Tournament for the eighth year in a row Friday night, but not before tacking on some drama.
With 62 seconds remaining in the second overtime session, Daisy Cervantes notched a golden goal to give the Raiders a 2-1 victory over Providence (Mont.) at Raider Stadium. She delivered after Gabi Nevinger lined up a corner kick from the right side that bounced around inside the box and ultimately landed at Cervantes' feet, giving her a clear, five-yard chip shot that she floated outside the reach of Argos keeper Dakota Neumann.
The Raiders improved to 9-7 overall and 6-4 in the CCC going into today's regular-season finale at 7:30 p.m. against Carroll (Mont.). Providence fell to 6-8 and 5-5 but backed into the conference tournament thanks to Carroll's loss Friday at Oregon Tech.
SOU had been in control for most of the night, taking the lead 21 minutes in. Yvonne Valencia's cross set up Kelsey Randall's 10-yard shot from right of the post, and it went off Neumann's hands and bounced just inside the left post for Randall's fifth goal of the season.
Southern Oregon defeated The Evergreen State in straight sets Friday. Statistics were not available at press time.