For over two decades, West Albany High girls soccer coach Erik Ihde has gone toe-to-toe with Crescent Valley and has seen plenty of epic matchups between the two schools.
“I’ve coached against them for 23 years and every single year they have a great program,” Ihde said. “They’ve got great coaches and great players — every single year is a battle against Crescent Valley.”
On Monday, his Bulldogs added another layer to the rivalry and staged an impressive upset to knock off the reigning state champion Raiders, who are ranked No. 1 in the coaches poll.
West Albany (4-2, 1-0) jumped ahead early and held on for 2-1 road win to kick off Mid-Willamette Conference play. The Bulldogs became the first 5A team this season to deal Crescent Valley (4-2, 0-1) a loss and they avenged last season's state semifinal defeat to the Raiders in the process.
“I think it’s a very friendly rivalry, because I think there’s a lot of positive vibes between coaches and players,” Ihde said. “But it’s still a rivalry. We have a ton of respect for them and we kind of circled this as being our toughest game of the year.”
The Bulldogs sat just outside the top-10 of the most recent coaches poll entering the week but held off an early onslaught of shots from Crescent Valley’s dangerous attacking. In the 33rd minute, Raiders forward Abby Smith appeared to have broken through for the opening goal when she slotted home a shot on a breakaway, but she was ruled offsides.
Just three minutes later, the Bulldogs took hold of the game when Jayde Crow buried a free kick from 35 yards out to open the scoring and swing the momentum of the game. Her shot crept just under the crossbar, past the outstretched hand of Crescent Valley keeper Peyton Dale.
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“I play club with Peyton and she’s really, really good,” Crow said. “She’s just an all-around good player. So when I saw that go in, it just got me hyped up and my team hyped up. I felt like we were moving a lot faster and playing a lot harder after that.”
Crescent Valley battled its way back into the game late in the second half and began to create some big chances as the Raiders tried to equalize. They moved Jada Foster, an all-state defender in 2018, further up the middle of the field in order to gain some more possession.
“They have some good pace through the back, but their technical ability in midfield is just really, really solid,” Foster said of the Bulldogs.
In the 70th minute, Foster came soaring in for a header off a corner kick and blasted a powerful shot that was headed for the top right corner, but Sydney Beers was stationed next to the post and cleared the ball away.
A few minutes later, West Albany broke free on a counter attack and Monica Kloess scored to double the lead. Claire Macy buried a goal from 15 yards out in the 79th minute to keep hope alive for the Raiders, but they ran out of time before they could find another goal.
The Bulldogs will travel to Lebanon on Thursday, while the Raiders will host North Bend in a non-league matchup.
“To beat a great team, you’ve got to play your best game,” Ihde said. “You’ve got to work hard and you’ve got to get a couple of bounces. We kind of checked all three of those boxes.”