A solid ball-control offense made for a good defense for Corvallis High’s boys soccer team Wednesday night.
Then it doesn’t hurt when an all-star performer like Edgar Monroy is on his game.
The senior forward scored three times as the eighth-seeded Spartans rolled to a 4-1 win against ninth-seeded Churchill in an OSAA 5A state first-round game at Bob Holt Stadium.
The victory sets up a Saturday quarterfinal at top seed La Salle in the second matchup since the Spartans got past the Falcons 1-0 in overtime in last year’s state championship game.
Corvallis (9-6), which had scored a combined three in its previous two matches, missed on some opportunities in the first half while taking a 1-0 lead into halftime. But the home team took full control in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, scoring twice in the span of 141 seconds.
Monroy scored his second of the night in the 47th minute and Mauricio Nieves-Bernal followed soon after in the 49th with his own to put the Spartans way out in front.
“I felt like we came into this game really mentally prepared and I’m happy that we took care of business. Four-one is a great result,” Monroy said. “I feel like there were some things that could have been better, like switching the ball through the middle and connecting passes, but we countered really well.”
Monroy finished the CHS scoring in the 65th minute, cleaning up a teammate’s long free kick after the ball was knocked away from the goal.
Churchill got one back in the 79th minute.
“We had a few guys back in place who had been out the last game or two. So just nice to get back in a rhythm,” Corvallis coach Chad Foley said. “I was proud of the guys’ for their mentally going into in this game. Instead of easing into the game, they put their stamp on it.”
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Foley, adding that he was proud of his team’s work and execution, said momentum can be infectious and once the ball goes in the net, good results tend to come after.
The Spartans’ ball control, which had Churchill (9-4-2) scrambling to keep up, led to some good chances when coupled with strong passing.
Corvallis, the Mid-Willamette Conference champion, nearly had a goal in the opening seconds of the match. But Monroy got the Spartans on the board in the coming minutes with a hard 25-yard shot past Lancers keeper Nick Clendenen.
A dominant advantage in possession kept the home team on the offensive half of the field throughout.
“During practice we move the ball around and keep it as much as we can, and when we see counter we try and get goals,” Monroy said.
Foley said there was not one particular player who stood out to him Wednesday.
“I think it was just a collective team effort,” the coach said. “Certainly you can point to Edgar with the goals, but I really liked our defense as a whole, that’s our back line and our goalkeeper (Max Kelly).”
Defenders Jackson Myers, Nathanyel Estrada and Elias Gallardo Rosas started for the Spartans.
Kelly was pressured only a few times in the match. A Churchill header following a long kick ahead went wide right in the 25th minute. Kelly went high to bring down a free kick from about 45 yards in the 30th minute.
La Salle (14-0-1) defeated visiting The Dalles on Wednesday to reach Saturday’s quarterfinal. The Falcons’ tie came against 6A Glencoe.
La Salle got past host Corvallis 4-1 on Sept. 17 in a match that was later awarded as a forfeit to the Falcons because the Spartans used an ineligible player. Corvallis forfeited four games in all.
“They’re a really good team and I’m excited for this next game,” Monroy said of the rematch.