Tigard boys to be led by a solid group of returnees

by: DAN BROOD - KICKING IT -- Tigard High School senior Sean McManamon, shown here in a match against Glencoe last year, is one of the key returnees for the Tigers this season. McManamon was an All-Pacific Conference first-team selection last year as a junior. TIGARD — The Tigers look to have plenty of experience.

The camaraderie seems to be there as well.

Now, they’re looking to turn that into success on the soccer field.

With a strong group of returning players, and some solid team chemistry, the Tigard High School boys soccer team is taking high hopes into the 2013 season.

“There is a good core of players that enjoy each other,” Tigard coach Tracy Hasson said. “They should have the ability to play well, but that will depend on mindset going into each game.”

The Tigers return a big group of players from last year’s squad that finished in fourth place in the final Pacific Conference standings, at 2-3-2, before going on to throw a scare into Lincoln in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

Lincoln, which went on to reach the Class 6A state championship game, had to come from behind late to get a 3-2 win over the Tigers in that postseason contest.

Among the key returnees for Tigard is senior midfielder/defender Sean McManamon, who was a first-team All-Pacific Conference selection last year as a junior.

Midfielder Javier Sanchez-Figueroa, who was an honorable mention all-league pick last year, and forward Charles Petitjean are among the other key returning seniors for the Tigers.

“Sean McManamon, Javier Sanchez-Figueroa and Charles Petitjean bring the most varsity experience and have earned the respect of their teammates,” Hasson said.

Another senior, Joni Mercado, returns at goalkeeper for the Tigers. He was an honorable mention all-league pick last year.

“Joni Mercado has stepped up huge in goal and leads by example,” Hasson said. “He has the trust and confidence of his teammates.”

Other senior returnees for the Tigers include defender Mick Whitehead, defender/midfielder Kyle Rose and midfielder Drew Bankston.

“The rest of the seniors are all returning and show by example the standard necessary for success,” Hasson said.

The group of returning juniors for the Tigers includes midfielder Jake O’Brien, who was an honorable mention all-league pick last year. Junior defender/forward Clint Raye looks to be another key returnee for the team.

“Juniors Jake O’Brien and Clint Raye are stepping into upperclassman roles, and are expected to take on bigger leadership roles that will continue on when the seniors are gone,” Hasson said.

Other returnees for the Tigers include junior forward Joseph Lea, junior midfielder Cesar Contreras, junior forward/midfielder Alex Figueroa, junior defender/midfielder Sinan Raja and sophomore forward Alberto Gonzalez.

Among the newcomers to the Tigard varsity are junior defender Cam VanSant, sophomore midfielder Brandon Pliego, freshman midfielder/defender Joe Campbell and forward Francisco Ramirez.

As for the Pacific Conference this season, Hasson sees spirited battles ahead for his Tigard squad.

“The game of soccer is very cruel and very kind sometimes,” he said. “Every game will be a great test regardless of the opponent.”

Tigard will open its season tonight (Thursday) when it hosts Lincoln in a non-league match starting at 7 p.m. at Tigard High School.

On Monday, the Tigers will be home to face West Linn in a 7 p.m. non-league contest.

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