Ashland High girls soccer coach Eric Wolff wasn't pleased with the Grizzlies’ performance in the South Medford jamboree last week.
He felt much better following Ashland’s season opener.
Faci Graham scored twice and Ia Balbuena had a goal and two assists as Ashland roared out to a 3-0 lead at the half en route to a 6-0 nonleague win over North Valley on Thursday at North Mountain Park.
“At the jamboree we played poorly as a team, and everything that could go wrong did,” Wolff said, “so I was a little worried. But our team came up and put pressure on North Valley and caused a lot of turnovers, and we were good about putting away opportunities at the net.”
And the Grizzlies had plenty of opportunities on which to practice their finishing skills.
The blowout began in the sixth minute, when Graham took control of the ball near midfield and dribbled past the entire North Valley defense on her way to a spectacular unassisted goal. Graham penetrated the penalty box then sidestepped the goalie before finishing the long run with a three-yard strike.
Five minutes later Samantha Lilley took a perfect pass from Hailee Hayes at the goal line for an easy tap-in goal and a 2-0 Ashland lead.
In the 36th, the Grizzlies continued to pull away when Balbuena delivered a pass into the box to Jessie Harrower, who faked out a defender before hammering the ball just inside the post.
Ashland only added to the Knights’ misery in the second half. Balbuena scored off an assist by My Elder-Hammond in the 48th, and Graham delivered her second goal off another assist by Elder-Hammond in the 59th.
Then, in the 73rd minute, Ashland added a perfect exclamation point when goalkeeper Sydney Norvell, who was moved to striker late, connected on another assist from Balbuena. According to Wolff, it was Norvell’s first varsity goal.
“And she had a shutout for the first 60 minutes (in goal),” Wolff said.
Wolff said the Grizzlies were strong in all areas and built some much-needed momentum going into Saturday’s game against 3A powerhouse St. Mary’s.
“We know how good (Graham) is, but I’m happy my team as a whole played as one unit today,” Wolff said. “This time they all played as a team and played tough defense all over the field. I’m really proud of how the team played today.”
At Klamath Falls, Mason Crawford scored in the 28th minute for the only goal of the day as Klamath Union beat Ashland 1-0 on Thursday.
The Grizzlies, who were playing their season opener, put pressure on the Pelicans’ defense but couldn’t break through in the nonconference tilt.
Hope Baldrica had eight kills and four blocks and Jordan Tilley added 18 assists, five kills and four aces as Ashland opened its season with a 25-20, 25-20, 25-20 nonleague win over Grants Pass on Thursday at Mountain Avenue Gym.
Nyla Norvell added 23 digs and seven aces for the Grizzlies.
At Davidson, N.C., Ashland native Jason Allred shot a 2-under par 70 in the first round of the Chiquita Classic and is tied for 31st at River Run Country Club.
The event is the second leg of the Web.com Tour Finals.
Allred made three birdies, including two on the back nine, to finish the day seven strokes behind leader Adam Hadwin.
Allred’s day featured a long putt to save par on No. 13.
Motade Atanda had 13 kills and 14 digs and Emma Gasman added 10 kills and three digs to lead Southern Oregon to a convincing 25-13, 25-12, 25-14 victory over Corban in the Cascade Conference opener for both teams at Bob Riehm Arena on Thursday.
The Raiders improved to 7-2 overall heading into tonight’s match against Northwest Christian. Corban fell to 3-5.
Southern Oregon controlled the match from the get-go, scoring seven straight points to open up an 18-7 lead in the opening set.
The Raiders also received 25 assists from Tyana Andrews and 11 digs from Brookelynn Cole.
Southern Oregon hit at a .314 clip for the match, including .500 in the opening set. Corban, which was led by Shantelle Hill’s six kills, was held to a .023 hitting clip.