For the winner of Tuesday night’s boys soccer showdown at CMH Field — first place in the Cowapa League standings.

A victory would have vaulted Astoria over Valley Catholic to the top of the league, but the Valiants had other ideas.

Valley Catholic (3-0 in league) retained its hold on first place in the Cowapa with a 5-1 win over the Fisherman, as the Valiants backed up their No. 1 ranking in the latest OSAA poll.

Four different players scored goals in the first half for Valley Catholic, and the teams played to a 1-1 tie over the final 40 minutes.

Astoria (2-2 in league) drops from second to third in the league standings, a half-game behind Seaside (2-1), which defeated Tillamook, also by a 5-1 score.

The Fishermen packed their side of the field with 11 defenders in the first half, but the Valiants — with their precision passing and accurate shots on goal — held a 3-0 lead through 25 minutes of action, then tacked on a fourth goal with 9:10 left in the first half.

The halftime score would have been even more lopsided, if not for a few remarkable saves by Astoria goalkeeper Dylan Altheide-Nielson.

The senior made several diving stops on shots on goal from the Valiants, including back-to-back saves at the 18:55 mark.

A 10-yard shot by Valley’s Berg Schmiesing was knocked down by a diving Altheide-Nielson, who got up to make a diving stop on a point-blank rebound shot by Josh McCulloch.

The Astoria keeper had help in the first half, when Valiant shots were deflected away by Fishermen defenders Evan Randall, David Bermudez and Brooks Fromwiller.

Astoria had an early opportunity on offense when Jeremy Owen stole a Valiant pass back to keeper Luka Rak, who had to make a quick save on a shot by Owen.

Another Astoria attempt by Michael Postlewait was just over the cross bar.

Altheide-Nielson had four saves in the first half, but the Valiants soon had their offense clicking.

In the 13th minute, a perfectly placed corner kick by Valley Catholic’s Nicolas Tubito was headed in by Bailey Hill for the game’s first goal.

Nine minutes later, Valley’s Connor Bly assisted on a close range goal by McCulloch, and three minutes after that, Bly blasted a left-footed shot into the Astoria net from 20 yards out.

The final goal of the first half came from sophomore Camden Fisco, who scored unassisted from 35 yards away.

After 23 scoreless minutes in the second half, the Valiants made it 5-0 when Schmiesing assisted Bly, whose one-touch shot from the left post got past Altheide-Neilson.

The Fishermen managed their lone goal with 10:01 left in the game, when Shrey Sharma stole a clear by Valley Catholic, and scored past Connor Matto to break up the shutout.

Matto made the save on a free kick by Astoria’s Dalton Byrd in the final minutes.

Gary Henley is a sports reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 503-861-8493 or ghenley@dailyastorian.com.

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