Tigard grabs league lead with win over Hillsboro

by: DAN BROOD - SMART MOVE -- Tigard senior Kyla Smart heads upfield during the Tigers''key 3-2 conference win over Hillsboro.TIGARD — Sure, the Tigard High School girls soccer team won a Pacific Conference championship a year ago.

But the Tigers had to share that honor with rival Tualatin.

This year, Tigard might get the crown all to itself.

With their wild, momentum-swinging 3-2 win over Hillsboro, coupled with a scoreless tie between Tualatin and McMinnville the same night, the Tigers put themselves in a position to do just that.

Tigard grabbed sole possession of the Pacific Conference lead by getting the victory over the Spartans in a conference match played Oct. 16 at Tigard High School.

“This is definitely huge,” Tigard senior Kyla Smart said after the win, and after the Tigers found out about the result at Tualatin.

“Oh my gosh,” Tigard senior Megan Franz added.

With the win, Tigard improved to 4-0-1 in Pacific Conference play and to 9-0-2 on the season at that point. Hillsboro moved to 3-2 in conference games and to 9-3 on the season. Meanwhile, with the tie against McMinnville, Tualatin, which was tied with Tigard for first place in the standings, moved to 3-0-2 in conference play and to 7-2-3 on the season.

“Winning the title would be incredible,” Smart said.

“It would be amazing,” Franz said. “This will push us even more.”

The Tigers seemed to be pushed plenty by Hillsboro in last week’s match.

“We knew it would be tough,” Franz said.

It was.

Tigard, playing just two days following an emotional 1-1 tie with Tualatin, got off to a bit of a sluggish start to the match.

Hillsboro grabbed a 1-0 lead when freshman Kennedy Taube scored on a long-range ground shot with 35 minutes and 24 seconds left in the first half.

“It seemed like we were tired and didn’t have enough energy,” Tigard junior forward Rachel Simmons said.

Tigard tried to battle back, getting shots from senior forward Erin Graham and freshman Jordy Lockrem.

With 18:28 left in the first half, Simmons had a turnaround shot from seven yards out sail to the right of the Hillsboro goal. Three minutes later, Spartan goalkeeper Emily Jones sprinted out to block Simmons’ running header attempt. Two minutes after that, Simmons had a hard-hit shot from 20 yards away drift just barely wide left of the Spartan goal.

by: DAN BROOD - IN A HURRY -- Tigard sophomore Natalie Bryant (right) looks to get the ball upfield against a Hillsboro defender in last week's match. The Tigers won 3-2 to move into first. But, soon after that, Simmons and the Tigers wouldn’t be denied.

After taking a pass from sophomore Rachel Josephson from the right side, Simmons hit a one-touch shot from 17 yards away, putting the ball in the left side of the Hillsboro goal to tie the match at 1-1 with 11:37 remaining in the first half.

“Rachel to Rachel,” Simmons said with a smile. “It was tough taking shot after shot before that.”

After getting the tying goal, Tigard took off.

“I think both their goal, and then our first goal, got us going,” Simmons said.

Tigard took a 2-1 lead with 4:22 left in the first half when senior Emilee Cincotta scored on a header shot from six yards away coming off a corner kick by junior Sarah Schaffer.

Then, with just 24 seconds left in the half, Tigard sophomore Natalie Bryant scored on a short-range shot off a pinpoint diagonal pass from Lockrem, giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead going into halftime.

The talented Spartans came back strong to start the second half.

Hillsboro cut the Tiger lead to 3-2 when sophomore Diana Santiago, after Tigard junior goalkeeper Zoey Dahme made a diving block, scored on a follow-up shot from five yards out with 31:57 left to play in the contest.

Tigard tried to answer back, getting shots from Bryant, Cincotta and Smart, but the Tigers spent most of the second half, especially the final five minutes, making sure the Spartans didn’t get the equalizer.

With 4:29 left to play, Dahme grabbed a long Hillsboro throw-in by the goal. Then, with 2:05 remaining, a shot by Spartan senior Haley Cowman skimmed off the top of the crossbar of the Tigard goal and flew out of bounds.

Tigard fended off Hillsboro’s final threat when, with just 20 seconds to play, Schaffer headed away a long Hillsboro free kick at the top of the box, wrapping up the hard-fought 3-2 victory.

“That felt good,” Simmons said. “It was definitely stressful. They were really good. This game was really important. It was a great win and we have smiles on our faces.”

“We had a lot of intensity,” Franz said.

Tigard picked up another key win on Tuesday when it scored a 6-1 victory at Newberg, which came into the contest with a 4-1 conference mark.

Tualatin, on Tuesday, posted a 9-0 win over Century.

Regular-season play ends today (Thursday). Tigard will be home to face Forest Grove and Tualatin will play Century at the 53rd avenue fields in Hillsboro. Both of those matches are set to start at 7 p.m.

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