Tigard battles back strong in setback to talented Grant

by: DAN BROOD - KEEPING CONTROL -- Tigard senior Javier Sanchez-Figueroa (3) controls the ball as Grant's Joey Kenney closes in during Tuesday's match.PORTLAND — The Tigard High School boys soccer team looks to be a work in progress.

The Tigers are hoping to keep getting better, reaching their peak at the right time.

In Tuesday’s match against powerful Grant, the Tigard squad seemed to show some glances of how good it may turn out to be.

The Tigers, after spotting the Generals a 4-0 lead, battled back strong before falling 5-2 in a non-league match played at Delta Park’s Strasser Field.

“Obviously, we had some struggles, but when we kept the ball, we played some good soccer,” Tigard senior captain Sean McManamon said after the match. “The high school season is short, so we need to build some chemistry in a hurry. But it will get there when it matters most.”

With the victory, Grant upped its season record to 1-2-1. Tigard moved to 0-3 on the season with the setback.

“It’s early. We’re not pushing the panic button yet,” Tigard coach Tracy Hasson said. “We’re absolutely a work in progress. We’re showing moments of good soccer.”

In Tuesday’s match, Grant took an early 1-0 lead on a goal by junior Matthew Jewell.

Tigard, getting a pair of key saves by senior goalkeeper Joni Mercado, didn’t allow the Generals to get another goal in the remainder of the first half.

But Grant came out firing to start the second half.

The Generals upped their lead to 2-0 on another goal by Jewell, who put an open shot from 10 yards out into the left side of the net, at the 43rd minute.

Four minutes later, after the Tigers were whistled for a hand ball in the penalty box, Grant senior Tucker Bufton put his penalty shot into the right side of the Tigard goal to make the score 3-0.

The Tigers came close to getting on the scoreboard in the 53rd minute. Tigard senior Javier Sanchez-Figueroa hit a corner kick from the left side, with the ball bending toward the Grant goal. But, right before the ball flew over the goal line, Grant junior Garrett Libsit headed it away.

by: DAN BROOD - FOOTWORK -- Tigard High School junior Cam Van Sant (right) looks to make a move past a Grant player  during Tuesday's match held at Delta Park. The Generals scored a 5-2 victory. One minute later, General senior Angelos Markantonatos scored on an open shot from seven yards out to up the Grant advantage to 4-0.

But Tigard didn’t let up.

McManamon, after taking a perfect pass from senior Charles Petitjean, scored on a running shot from 14-yards out to make the score 4-1 in the 56th minute.

“We had a good combo up front, with Charles and I and the wingers,” McManamon said.

After another impressive save by Mercado, Tigard struck again.

A free kick by Sanchez-Figueroa was batted around in front of the Grant goal.

Tigard junior Joseph Lea got to the loose ball and pounded a hard ground shot from nine yards out into the General goal to trim the margin to 4-2 in the 69th minute.

Tigard nearly got even closer, as in the 73rd minute, a shot by Tiger senior Alex Figueroa’s shot from 25 yards out sailed just barely wide right of the Grant goal.

The Generals then got a goal by senior John Mulcare in the 77th minute to put away their 5-2 victory.

“We’re making progress,” McManamon said. “We’re taking the steps we need to take.”

“We’re trying to keep the ball, and that’s a good thing,” Hasson said. “But we’re forgetting about the other aspect, which is defense.”

Tigard will be back in action tonight (Thursday) when it hosts Wilsonville in a non-league match starting at 7 p.m. at Tigard High School. On Tuesday, the Tigers will be home to face Liberty in a non-league match starting at 7 p.m.

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