Lane United FC concluded their USL League Two season with a 3-0 loss to Timbers U23 in Salem.
The Timbers, who had already locked up the Northwest Division title as the lone progressors to the playoffs, applied pressure early and often to the Lane United defense.
A Levonte Johnson tap-in at the back post gave Timbers U23 the lead in the 34th minute. The Reds battled hard and kept things close, enjoying several chances to draw level in the second half, however Marco Afonso would seal the deal from the penalty spot in the 91st minute before Samuel Malloch made it 3-0 deep into stoppage time.
Head coach Jason Carney adopted a strict defensive approach built on counterattacks to take on the league champions.
“We had to set a defensive block and that’s what we [worked on] all week,” Carney recalled. “Defensively it was great and then we started playing a little bit too in the second half.
“Three-nil just does not sum up how we did and how the game went.”
The Reds did have genuine attempts at goal. Jordan Jackmon’s rifled shot from distance that whistled high in the first half as he held off a defender after a long ball from Grady Thurman was notable, as was an Ed Port shot from inside the area after a nice buildup that also saw the follow-up attempt saved, but none was able to get past the home goalkeeper.
Whitney Schatz came on in the second half to make his Lane United debut. Schatz, who played in midfield, will be a senior this fall at South Eugene High School.
“It was the most fun game I’ve probably played,” said Schatz. “Just being away from Eugene and having those Timbers supporters [jeering], it’s fun to be hated.”
“I like falling into tackles like that. It makes it fun, makes it intense.”
The final whistle brought no tears or frustration, but hugs and smiles. Reflecting on a hectic season, Grady Thurman was glad to have been part of a unique experience.
“We’ve progressed more like a brotherhood. It feels like we’ve come closer together as people,” the Oregon native reflected. “We all know each other now and it’s gonna be a sad goodbye, but it’s been fun.”
Lane United will play in the semifinal of the Oregon Open Cup on Saturday, July 24th at George Fox University. The Reds' opponent will be determined on Saturday, July 17th.