The goal the Titans set for Tuesday’s match was to score in the first five minutes.
But for West Salem High School’s girls soccer team to be leading South Salem 3-0 in the first 25 minutes was something no one could have foreseen.
The Titans made the early advantage hold up in a 3-0 win against South Salem on Tuesday night in a Greater Valley Conference game.
“It’s kind of a whole nother level of passion for us when we play them, and it kind of came out when we went into balls harder and everyone just played with a lot more heart,” West Salem senior goalkeeper Julia Van Winckel said.
In what has already been a surprising couple first weeks of conference play, neither West Salem nor South Salem – last year’s co-league champions – are leading the league.
West Salem improves to 6-3 overall and 2-1 in the GVC, while South Salem is 4-6 overall and 2-2 in the GVC.
A West Salem team that starts nine seniors and was a state semifinalist a year ago started the conference season with a shocking loss to McMinnville.
“We are getting better,” West Salem coach Jaime Rodriguez said. “Fitness was an issue early on. That doesn’t seem to be so much of an issue now. They’re able to go longer and go harder for longer into the games.”
Senior midfielder Liz Mendez scored two minutes into the game then senior midfielder Paula Labate scored in the seventh and 25th minutes to give the Titans an insurmountable lead.
The shutout was the first West Salem has recorded this season.
“We’ve been training really hard, especially for this game, and since it’s our last year I think we’ve wanted it more than any year before,” Labate said.
South Salem had better control of the ball in the second half and got better shots on goal, but couldn’t finish a shot.
“We always finish strong,” South Salem coach Alvaro Anaya said. “It seems like second halves are always better for us.”
West Salem forward Anna Norrenberns was injured in a collision with South Salem goalkeeper Kendall Harrison, left the game early in the second half and didn’t return.
“Looks like she’s going to have a shiner,” Rodriguez said. “She’s going to be fine.”
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West Salem 3, South Salem 0
At South Salem
WS- Liz Mendez 2:00; WS- Paula Labate 7:00; WS- Paula Labate 25:00.