By Josh Bronson
Pilot staff writer
This year's Brookings-Harbor High School girls' soccer team is not accustomed to losing.
After an undefeated regular season, the Bruins had high hopes for a prolonged playoff run.
But the Bruins ran into the soccer powerhouse that is the Catlin Gabel Eagles as they lost their second round playoff game 2-1.
"It was a well fought game," Coach Paul Angove said. "I thought we did a good job and we have nothing to be ashamed of."
For the first time this season, the Bruin defense was seriously challenged and were forced into a few mistakes.
The Eagles pressured the Bruins early, getting a couple of good opportunities on free kicks, with one hitting the post and another sailing just wide.
In the 14th minute, the Eagles were able to capitalize on a defensive miscue that allowed a Catlin Gabel player to get a shot off that deflected off the crossbar and to Leah Thompson, who was able to finish it and give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
Just two minutes later, Jessie Goergen took a free kick from outside the penalty box that just barely flew over the top of the goal.
The Eagles continued to keep the pressure on for the rest of the half, but the Bruins were able to hang on and entered the second half down only one goal.
"We came out a little flat in the first half," Angove said. "But I thought we played much better in the second half. We just got beat on a couple of lucky opportunities."
Not too far into the second half, the Bruins had a prime scoring opportunity as Goergen lofted an indirect free kick into the penalty box that deflected off of the foot of the goalie.
Ashley Juarez, Molly Moncrief and Ally Manley were all there, ready to put in the deflection, but the Eagle goalie, Rebecca Kropp, promptly pounced on the ball before the Bruins could capitalize.
About midway through the half, goalie Ellen Stadelman came up with a big save as she deflected a hard, high shot over the crossbar.
But just about a minute later, the Eagles were able to cash in on another Bruin error as Thompson scored her second goal of the game to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.
"They were so much faster on offense than we were on defense," Angove said. "That really hurt us."
Even with a two-goal deficit, the Bruins continued to fight and started to turn the tide on the Eagles.
With nine minutes left to play, Ciara Freeman gathered a ball on defense and passed it to Jillian McCool on the outside.
McCool made a couple of nifty moves and took the ball all the way down the line and then sent a low cross into the penalty box.
Kropp was able to get a piece of the cross, but one of her defenders cleared the ball out of the box right to Ally Manley at the top of the 18-yard line, who reared back and blasted a shot into the back of the net while Kropp was still out of position.
The goal cut the lead to 2-1 and gave the Bruins new life in the final minutes of the game.
With the momentum of the game changed, the Bruins put the pressure on the Eagles and had a few more scoring chances, but couldn't manage to crack the Eagles defense again as the whistle sounded the 2-1 defeat.
The Eagles did a great job controlling the ball with excellent passing and, for the first time all year, outplayed the Bruin midfield.
Moncrief had an exceptional game in the middle for the Bruins as she stayed aggressive for the entire game.
But the Bruins had a difficult time getting the ball up to Goergen, Juarez and Kayla Hamm.
The speedy Eagle defense was able to contain the Bruins for most of the game and Kropp did a good job of coming out and clearing any balls that the Bruins played forward just a little too far.
"I thought our team played well," Catlin Gable coach Mark Lawton said. "We're a passing team, but I think we passed a little too much at some points and got off fewer shots."
Catlin Gable is one of the most renown soccer programs in Oregon, winning 12 of the last 15 state titles, including 11 straight championships.
Located in Portland, Catlin Gable is a private school that has a much broader talent base to rely on than an isolated school like Brookings-Harbor.
"They (Brookings-Harbor) have some good players," Lawton said. "For a small town, they have plenty of talent."
The Bruins finished their record breaking season with an overall record of 14-1, sweeping league play on their way to a Special District 3 Championship.