Tualatin shines in the clutch in playoff win
TUALATIN — It wasn't that the Tualatin High School girls soccer team played a bad first half.
But, the Timberwolves knew, they definitely had to turn things up a notch in the second half.
They did, and they got a playoff win to show for it.
Tualatin, filled with energy and getting big, clutch plays on both ends of the field in the second half, scored a 1-0 win over South Medford in a Class 6A state playoff first-round match played Saturday at Tualatin High School.
"I think it went really well," said Tualatin senior forward Taylor Morgan, who scored the only goal of the match. "After the first half, we realized that we really had to pick it up. I think our energy level went up 110 percent, and we finally were connecting."
"I thought it went really well," said Tualatin freshman defender Maya Loudd, who made a goal-saving play in the second half. "In the second half, we really pulled together as a team. That encouraged us all to stay strong, and to fight for every ball."
With the loss, South Medford, the No. 3 team out of the Southwest Conference, and the No. 27 team in the final OSAA power rankings, finished its season with a final overall record of 5-7-3. Tualatin, the Three Rivers League champion, and the No. 7 team in the power rankings, improved to 13-1-1 on the season. The Wolves also advance to the second round of the state playoffs, where they'll host TRL foe Lakeridge in a match set to start at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Tualatin High School.
"This was extremely fun," Morgan said. "It's awesome to come out on a Saturday and play the game you love and winning it."
In the first half of the state-playoff opener, Tualatin got three shots on goal from junior Cally Togiai and two by senior Abby Borg, but the Wolves weren't able to capitalize on those attempts. Meanwhile, the Tualatin defense, featuring senior Darci Chamberlain, senior Aden Lynch, freshman Avery Porter and Loudd, limited South Medford to just one shot on goal in the half, leaving the teams in a scoreless tie at going into halftime.
But it was a fired-up Timberwolf squad that took the field for the second half. Tualatin got a shot on goal by sophomore Brook Burke 10 minutes into the half, shortly followed by a pair of shots by Togiai, leading to South Medford junior goalkeeper Jaeda Boutwell having to make a pair of diving saves to keep the match scoreless.
However, with 23 minutes and 19 seconds left to play in the second half, the Panthers looked to have a prime scoring chance, when junior Toni Coleman broke into the clear and looked to have a wide-open shot from just five yards out. But Loudd, coming out of nowhere, was able to deflect the ball away as it neared the goal line.
"Maya Loudd saved a shot that could have made it end in a loss for us," Morgan said. "The defense was killer. They were absolutely amazing."
"I couldn't do it without Avery and Darci and Aden in the back," Loudd said. "They're always helping out. It just feels so good to save goals."
Still, the Wolves needed to get a goal of their own. And, thanks to a heads-up play by Morgan, they got it.
With 15:37 left to play, Togiai, from 22 yards out, blasted a line-drive shot toward the South Medford goal. Boutwell, diving to her right, was able to deflect the shot, but Morgan, following the play, was in the right place at the right time, and she smacked a rebound shot into the back of the net, giving the Wolves a 1-0 lead.
"It started with Cally, who hit an awesome shot, and the goalie deflected it and I knew I had to be there," Morgan said. "If I wouldn't have put it in, then who knows what would have happened? It felt amazing. I was so excited for my team. I wasn't just happy for myself, I was happy for the whole team."
From there, Loudd came up with another key defensive play, stealing the ball away from South Medford senior Heather Ramirez on a drive toward the Tualatin goal with 6:09 remaining, helping clinch the 1-0 victory.
"I was nervous," Loudd said. "There was a lot of pressure, but it was so much fun. Just the intensity out there makes our whole season even better."
For the match, Tualatin had 10 shots on goal and three corner kicks. South Medford had four shots on goal and one corner kick.
Lakeridge, the No. 3 team out of the Three Rivers League, and the No. 10 team in the power rankings, is 10-2-3 on the season. The teams played less than two weeks ago, with Tualatin getting a 3-0 win over the Pacers in a league match played Oct. 24 at Tualatin High School.
The winner of the second-round playoff match at Tualatin will face either Lincoln or South Eugene in a state playoff quarterfinal match on Saturday.
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