Creswell, Sports Zone

Creswell building confidence, momentum toward playoffs

CRESWELL – The Creswell Bulldogs girls soccer team traveled to rival Pleasant Hill last Tuesday and won 2-0. The win, coupled with a 3-2 victory over the Billies on Sept. 14, gave the Bulldogs their first undefeated season against Pleasant Hill since 2018.

“This is the most complete 80 minutes we played this season, by far. Our passing was just stupendous. We just did everything well tonight,” Creswell coach Dan Smathers said after the game. “We finally put the whole 80 minutes together, and this is the first game that we’ve done this.”

It was impressive, considering it was Creswell’s ninth win of the season. Sophomore Elliette Kinney, who Smathers said “probably has the most upside on our team,” got the scoring underway with a goal from outside the box in the 9th minute. One torrential downpour later and Creswell got its second goal of the game – a 46th minute looping shot from freshman Jordyn Lee.

A sophomore and freshman contributing for the Bulldogs is status quo – freshman Mila Nguyen is the team’s leading goal-scorer on the season, and Smathers believes sophomore goalie Kylie Leonard is the best keeper in the league. It’s part of the reason why Creswell, which is 10-3 and ranked No. 10 in Class 3A, is doing so well.

“We had high expectations coming in with the people that we had coming back, and then the addition of some freshmen has been a huge bonus for us. This is the first season where we didn’t really have to cover holes,” Smathers said. “Not only do we have a complete team, but we have some good people coming off the bench.”

Creswell’s Mila Nguyen (9) secures the ball in the win over Pleasant Hill. Nguyen leads the team in scoring as a freshman.

Smathers is in his fifth year at the helm, and a 6-0 win over La Pine last Thursday clinched Creswell’s first playoff appearance since 2018 – the year before Smathers started.

“It would make me very happy, not just for myself, but for all the seniors who’ve worked so hard. You know, for them to go into the playoffs, it would be a big deal,” Smathers said.

Part of the reason Creswell was able to clinch a postseason berth is because of senior twins Tailey and Dakota Carson, who Smathers said are his “favorite twins.”

“They started as freshmen during the Covid season, and each year, they’ve just improved so much,” Smathers said, crediting Tailey’s club soccer participation as well. “(Tailey)’s our first captain and the leader of the team right now. Everything kind of revolves around her as far as what we do. They’re just the best, and they’re as good of people as they are players.”

Creswell’s Dakota Carson (0) makes a move against Pleasant Hill. Dakota and twin sister Tailey are leading the Bulldogs into the postseason for the first time since 2018.

Creswell’s victory gave the team a shot at the Mountain Valley Conference title, but the Bulldogs ultimately fell 2-0 at No. 3 Sisters last Saturday – eliminating them from the conference title race. That loss didn’t keep Creswell from accomplishing one of its season goals.

“One of our goals was to win the league… and the second one is to go to the playoffs,” Smathers said. “We want to not only go into the playoffs, but be successful there too.”

Creswell is third in the MVC, but has a chance to finish second depending on how the final week of the regular season goes. 

“What we need to do is be confident. And tonight, we played confidently,” Smathers said. “Confidence is a big part of that. We might even surprise some people.”



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