SPRINGFIELD — Southern Oregon will get the chance to defend its title in the Cascade Conference Championships presented by U.S. Bank after an emphatic 4-0 semifinal win against Carroll on Thursday night at the Willamalane Sports Complex.
The top-seeded and 14th-ranked Raiders’ 18th consecutive game without a loss turned into a blowout in the second half, where they scored three goals to send the No. 7-seeded Saints limping home and set up Saturday’s championship match against No. 3-seeded Rocky Mountain (Mont.).
Rocky clinched the CCC’s second automatic berth in the NAIA National Tournament with a 1-0 semifinal defeat of Eastern Oregon. The Bears (16-4) will ride a five-game winning streak into the title match, looking to avenge a 2-0 loss at SOU on Sept. 14.
Sophomore Renee Resendez starred against the Saints (8-8-1) with his first two goals of the season and first career multi-goal outing, helping the Raiders improve to 16-2-2 overall.
Eleven days after the Raiders clinched the regular-season championship with a 3-1 win on Carroll’s home field, they went ahead on Resendez’s header that was set up by a Paul Matyas cross in the 39th minute. Brendan Allen doubled the advantage eight minutes into the second half with his sixth goal of the season, getting assists from Yan Pessoa de Oliveira and Zac Hansen.
In the 76th and 78th minutes, the Raiders were sparked by a less likely source: Alejandro Velazquez, a junior who had yet to break into the scoring column this season. First he tallied a goal, heading in Luis Aguilar’s corner kick, and then he registered his first assist, sending a pass to Resendez that he finished to the right side.
Just as they did in a 1-0 quarterfinal victory over Oregon Tech, the Raiders conceded only one shot on goal. It was saved by Wyatt Zabinksi, ensuring their 14th shutout and seventh in their last eight games.
SOU won last year’s title game against Corban, which was upset by Carroll in the quarterfinals. Rocky captured its only tournament championship in 2015, its first season in the CCC.