Tigard girls edge Tualatin to stay perfect
TUALATIN — Well, the Tigard High School girls soccer team finally gave up a goal.
But, in the big scheme of things, that might not matter much at all.
That's because the Tigers are still perfect on the season, staying unbeaten with a spirited win against their talented rivals.
Tigard opened Three Rivers League play by battling its way to a 2-1 win over Tualatin in a contest played Tuesday at Tualatin High School.
"We played like a team and we wanted to get a victory to prove to ourself that we are competitive," first-year Tigard head coach Duccio Tagliaferri said. "We gave up our first goal against and didn't fall apart. We played for each other and believed in each other.
With the win, Tigard not only got off to a 1-0 start in Three Rivers League play, but the Tigers also improved to a perfect 8-0 on the season. Tualatin moved to 6-2 on the season with the setback.
"We decided to play in the second half," Tualatin coach Kalé Dwight said. "We let them dictate the pace of the game during the first half, which made us try and play catch up the entire first half. We took command in the second half and actually played the soccer that I know my team is capable of."
It didn't take the Tigers, and star senior forward Gabby Brown, long to strike in Tuesday's showdown between the rivals. Following a long, booming punt by Tigard senior goalkeeper Natalie Carlson, Brown gathered the ball on the run and, from 30 yards away, blasted the ball inside the right post of the Tualatin goal, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the contest.
Less than a minute later, Carlson came up with another key play, running out and sliding to grab a loose ball right before open Tualatin sophomore forward Alyvia Embree could get to it.
Tigard, and Brown, then struck again. Taking a free kick from 35 yards away, on the left side of the field, Brown smacked a bending, line-drive attempt that found its way inside the left post of the Tualatin goal, giving the Tigers a 2-0 advantage with 24 minutes and 2 seconds left to play in the first half.
From there, the Timberwolf defense, including senior Felicity Ganzar, senior Megan Sweeney and junior Aden Lynch among others, stiffened, not allowing Tigard to get another shot on goal the remainder of the first half.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the field, the Wolves were trying to answer back. Tualatin sophomore forward Cally Togiai had a shot from 25 yards out saved by Carlson with 21:43 left in the half. Togiai had a pair of other shots from the same range sail just over the crossbar of the Tiger goal. Then, with 3:58 left in the half, Carlson had to dive to her right to deflect a free-kick attempt by Togiai, again from 25 yards away.
The Wolves also had a first-half shot on goal by Embree saved by Carlson.
But, despite Tualatin's efforts, the Tigard defense, including senior Ava Damis, junior Riley White, junior Logan Kennedy and sophomore Jordan Williams, among others, preserved the 2-0 lead going into halftime.
Tualatin, fired up after the break, trimmed the Tigard lead to 2-1 when Togiai scored on a close-range shot eight minutes into the second half. It was the first goal the Tigers had surrendered all season.
"She slotted it in the goal beautifully," Dwight said.
But, despite the Wolves keeping the pressure on throughout the rest of the contest, they couldn't get the equalizer, leaving Tigard with the 2-1 victory in the league opener.
"The whole defensive line was great," Tagliaferri said. "Ava Demis, Jordan Williams, Natalie Carlson, Riley White, Logan Kennedy and Sydney Leinberger all had big games."
"It was a frustrating first half but a really well-played second," Dwight said. "Hopefully, we learn from this and start to play well for the entire 80 minutes of every game."
Both teams return to league action on Thursday. Tigard will face St. Mary's Academy in a match starting at 6:15 p.m. at Portland's Buckman Field. Tualatin will play at Lake Oswego at 7:30 p.m. On Tuesday, Tigard will host Lake Oswego and Tualatin will be home to face Canby in 7 p.m. league contests.