Pirates in fourth place defeated the Skyline Conference champion and third-placed Henley 2-0 to move into the playoffs of the states with a lot of momentum
PHOENIX – In the past few weeks, Phoenix head coach Chris Gallegos has been feeling better and better about the way his team plays.
The progress that the pirates have made could be seen on Monday evening.
In a fight between two of the top teams in Class 4A, the goals of the seniors Victor Martinez and Jorge Mejia in the second half as well as a strong defensive performance of No. 4 in Phoenix brought a 2-0 win against third-placed Henley in the final of the regular season for both teams at PT Rising Field.
“The way things went and things built up, we played better,” said Gallegos. “Everyone came together and it was building block, building block, building block.
“This is what we needed to prepare for the playoffs, so that’s what we set out to do. Henley is a phenomenal team, we knew it was going to be close so this will be the perfect game to help us get into the playoffs. “
When these two teams met for the first time on October 6th in Klamath Falls, Henley – who won the Skyline Conference title with a win over Klamath Union last Friday and snapped Phoenix’s five-year run at the top of the table – scored a 6-2. Victory, a game Gallegos knew things just totally got away from his team.
On Monday evening, however, things looked very different for the Pirates (12: 2, 8: 2 skyline).
Not only did Phoenix take the win and a bit of revenge on Henley (11-3-1, 9-1), the Pirates limited the Hornets to a total of eight shots throughout the game.
“We had to clean up a few things defensively,” said Gallegos. “As soon as we did that, it started to click. The guys start to click and they really just collapse. We are going in the right direction. … I have a great back line right now and they do a great job. Defense wins championships, and they do. Sergio (Alegria) showed a phenomenal game and really improved. He was just a great leader for us back there. “
The first half ended goalless, although Phoenix left Henley 9-3. The Pirates’ best chance in the first half had seven minutes before half-time when Cielo Marlia-Larsen sent a cross towards the rear post from the right. Caden Gallegos made the run into the 6-yard box, but his attempt to slip just failed.
The Pirates’ fate changed in less than six minutes in the second half when Martinez, reigning Skyline Player of the Year, attempted to split a pair of defenders right in the box. The center referee ruled that a foul had been committed, which gave Phoenix the penalty and a chance to get in front.
Martinez had no problems with that, sending Henley keeper Andrew Edwards in the wrong direction and sinking his shot into the net to the left. I
It was the first goal Henley – who entered the game on Monday night with a four-game winning streak – had allowed in a 3-2 loss to McLoughlin since October 9.
The Pirates doubled their lead in the 62nd minute, Martinez re-initiated the action that led to the goal. Martinez gave the defender a deft move, marking him as he spun with the ball, but saw his shot blocked. Before the ball could land, Caden Gallegos attempted a volley in the direction of the goal, but that too was blocked. The second ricochet landed at the feet of Mejia, who had time to control the ball at the back post and shoot it home to give Phoenix a 2-0 lead.
Less than three minutes later, Henley had his best chance of the evening, but Phoenix keeper Tucker Speaks’ double save – the first to come after a looping shot he dumped on the crossbar – kept the Hornets off the scoreboard.
It allowed Speaks and the rest of the Phoenix defense to post their fourth shutout in their last five games.
“We did a good job and much better than there,” said Alegria. “When we were over there, (the defenders) decided to move up because we weren’t scoring enough goals. We should have just stayed behind the whole time. … We really wanted (the shutout) because we gave everything. Mentally we weren’t there for the game that was played 6-2 (against Henley), but this is our home here and we did what we do at home – and that’s the win. “
Speaks, another of Phoenix’s nine seniors, finished with four saves while Edwards made five stops.
As a team, the Pirates outperformed the Hornets 17-8.
“The playoffs are just around the corner and we’re trying to get better, we’re trying to improve,” said Alegria. “We’re trying to win.”
HENLEY 6, PHOENIX 2: At Klamath Falls, Phoenix fell behind early and was never able to recover in the final of the regular season against a Henley squad that finished second in the postseason.
After the Hornets (9-4, 7-3 Skyline) with goals in the 12th 20th minute after a pass from junior Sofia Rodriguez.
After a goal by Henley at the beginning of the second half, Phoenix senior Maddy Mayer hit with a PK after 46 minutes to reduce the Hornets’ lead to 4-2.
Junior Morgan James played well in midfield, winning 50/50 balls and creating opportunities for the Pirates in the transition period.
Reach reporter Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.
Phoenix’s Caden Gallegos (2) hits Henley defenseman Eli Hayes to the ball in the first half of Monday night’s game. Photo by Denise Baratta
Phoenix’s Victor Martinez, right, hits Henley’s Trevor Tobiasson to the ball for a shot on goal in the first half of the game on Monday night. Photo by Denise Baratta
Victor Martinez shoots on goal under pressure from Henley’s Lello Squera in the first half of Monday night’s game. Photo by Denise Baratta
Phoenix’s Jenner Seldon (5) and Henley’s Jeshua Ruelas (17) will fight for first place at a loose ball in the first half of the game on Monday night. Photo by Denise Baratta