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The Panthers won 3-2 against the Tillamook Cheesemakers on Thursday, for its first preseason win.

INDEPENDENCE — The Central High School boys soccer team started its week off with a 1-1 tie at North Bend.

“We went up 20 minutes into the first half, a goal from junior Omar Ceja,” said head coach Jose Becerra. “Besides that, we had a ton of chances, but the ball would just not go in. One ball hit the post and came out, and their goalkeeper had a ton of saves. North Bend (1-4-1 overall, 0-1 Midwestern League) scored its goal in the last five minutes of the game and it came from a corner kick.”

The Panthers (1-2-1 overall, 0-0 Mid-Willamette Conference) attempted 16 shots on goal, and goalkeeper sophomore Saul Esquivel tallied up seven saves.

Thursday night, the Panthers nabbed a 3-2 victory against the Tillamook Cheesemakers (1-2-1 overall, 0-0 Cowapa League). 

Fans lined up on the edge of Panther Stadium, waiting to congratulate the team on its first victory of the preseason.

This win is a stark contrast to the previous games the Panthers have played this season. 

“The biggest difference that I have noticed is that they are beginning to believe in themselves and having more confidence in their abilities to play,” said Becerra. “They are also getting more used to one another and really learning how to play with each other. It is a very young team that has never had varsity experience, but they are growing game by game and practice by practice, and they are starting to play harder and faster. It is fascinating to see, and we can just continue to improve from here.”

Ceja agreed with his coach.

“In the beginning, it was pretty rough trying to play together, but I think we’re getting to know each other better.”

Ten minutes into the first half, the Panthers scored with a goal by junior Leonardo Hernandez.

At halftime, the score was tied 1-1.

“It was a back-and-forth game; we tended to have more chances, but just could not put the ball on frame,” Becerra said.

Battling for the ball in the second half, Ceja scored to break the tie with 15 minutes left and put the Panthers up front 2-1, followed by another score from sophomore Andres Rincon 10 minutes later from outside the 18th yard box.

A slip in defense allowed the Cheesemakers to get past the Panthers and score a goal.

“We started off strong,” Ceja said. “And then in the beginning of the second half, I dunno, we went back to sleep I guess, but we woke up again.”

The Panthers travel to Milwaukie on Sept. 19 at 7 p.m.

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