Watch out Class 6A, Grant girls soccer is back for more in 2022
The key to Grant High girls soccer winning its first state title in program history last season was all about controlling the ball.
Each time out, the Generals wore down defenses with constant possession, keeping their own defense fresh when it came to crunch time.
And while many of the players from the 2021 run are gone, the 2022 Grant team looks awfully similar following a 3-0 win over Beaverton on Tuesday, Sept. 6, the same school the Generals beat a year ago 4-3 for the 2021 title.
The Beavers didn't fire a single shot in the first half and only put up one in the second half as the Generals dominated from the first whistle.
"That's our main thing, don't let our keepers get shot on," Grant head coach Manolis Tjuanakis said. "They know the middle of the field has to work very hard for that and if they get beat, the other four have to step in and clean up the mess.
"Our goal this year is if we lose the ball, we want to win it back within the next 30 seconds."
Consider the goal met in game two of the year after Grant tied Sherwood 2-2 to open the season on Sept. 1 -- the same Bowmen squad that was the only team to beat the Generals in 2021.
The first two goals on Tuesday against Beaverton came from seniors Olivia Lukrofka and KT Roesinger, and the third from junior Addie Day.
The first two goal scorers also had assists thanks to their team getting into quick transitions from midfield steals.
"I don't know what we'd do without a strong midfield," Roesinger said. "We had that last year, we have that this year and it just kind of allows our wings to make good runs. We have a lot more opportunities because they're able to hold the ball up long enough for us to get in."
The biggest beneficiary last season of that midfield was forward Elle Frazier, who scored about half of all the Generals' goals.
With Frazier and her twin sister Liv now at Portland State, the big question is, who steps up to fill that void -- or will it be a group of players?
Roesinger and Lukrofka both seemed up to the task against Beaverton.
"Last year we knew Elle was going to be the main scorer," Tjuanakis said. "I think this year the situation is they are trying to figure out who the Elle Frazier is going to be."
Tjuanakis said discovering that offensive talent within the team has led to a little bit of individual play early on this season rather than finding an open teammate, but that seemed to change in the second half against Beaverton with assists on two of the three goals.
Plus the Generals aren't a team that loses talent but rather replaces it, whether that be players stepping into new roles or getting players back from injuries -- which Grant had plenty of in 2021.
"We had a lot of injured players who didn't get a lot of time last year and that are now coming back into the game, like Olivia Lukrofka and Veronica Bianco," Roesinger said. "They're both really good players and also goal scorers."
Needless to say, even with some new faces leading the scoring front, the goal remains a state title in 2022.
"The group is definitely talented," Tjuanakis said. "They are hungry and eager to defend the title so they have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder … it's good to see."
While 2021 might have been the first in Grant girls soccer history, the 2022 squad hopes that description changes to the first of many behind a repeat this season.
"Everyone is just as close as we were last year and I think that, in the end, is what put us above Beaverton," Roesinger said. "You really kind of build that sense of community throughout the season and by the end, everybody knows that you have each other's backs."
Taking down last year's runner-up is a good start, and with talent across the board, the Generals could show up in Hillsboro Stadium again in November.
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