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The Tigers advance in the Class 6A boys soccer state playoffs with 1-0 first-round win

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard High School sophomore Jack Hallam (2) goes up high to get his head on the ball during the Tigers' 1-0 win over Grants Pass in Saturday's first-round state playoff match.TIGARD — The Tigard High School boys soccer team played the waiting game.

And, thanks to some good, fired-up play, the waiting game paid off for the Tigers.

Tigard, after creating some prime second-half chances, scored with less than 10 minutes to play in the match to get a 1-0 win over Grants Pass in a Class 6A state playoff first-round match played Saturday at Tigard High School.

"We went into the second half ready to play, and we knew that we were just waiting on the chance to come," said Tigard senior forward Jacob Theodoroff, who scored the only goal of the match. "We just kept playing, and playing, until we finally got one in the net."

"It was pretty good," said Tigard senior goalkeeper Jackson Cleaver, who made a pair of key plays in the final minutes to help secure the win. "We started off a little slow. Grants Pass gave us a good, hard-fought battle. They came out ready to play. We just regrouped during halftime and started coming together."

With the loss, Grants Pass, the No. 2 team out of the Southwest Conference, and the No. 22 team in the final OSAA power rankings, finished its season with a final overall record of 8-4-3. Tigard, the Three Rivers League champion, and the No. 11 team in the power rankings, improved to 12-2-1 on the season. The Tigers also advance to the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs, where they'll play Grant in a game set to start at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Strasser Field in Delta Park.

"We got the 'W,' which is what we were looking for," Theodoroff said. "We obviously have some things we want to work on for the next game, but it was a good win, and a good way to start the playoffs. I thought we played well."

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard High School senior Rasheed Tarhuni looks to get the ball upfield during the Tigers' 1-0 win over Grants Pass in Saturday's Class 6A state playoff match."I think it really helps when you have nine seniors in the starting line-up, and they're battling for their last game," Cleaver said. "I think that's one of the major things we have going for us in the playoffs."

Tigard, in Saturday's playoff opener, did get shots on goal from senior Marco Millan, junior Jack Hallam, senior Trevor Smith, senior Ivan Orozco and senior Rasheed Tarhuni in the first half, but the Tigers weren't able to convert on any of those attempts. Meanwhile, the Tigard defense, including senior Jared Debban, Hallam, sophomore Brandon Mendez and senior Carlos Valdovinos, limited Grants Pass to just two shots on goal, keeping the match scoreless going into halftime.

The Tigers came out ready to go in the second half. Debban had a header shot, coming off a free kick by senior Trevor Smith, hit the crossbar of the Grants Pass goal, and go over and out of bounds, with 32 minutes and 59 seconds left to play in the match.

From there, Tigard got shots from Theodoroff, Smith and Tarhuni. But, as the match entered the final 10 minutes, the Tigers were still locked in a scoreless tie with the Cavemen.

But that soon changed. Grants Pass knocked the ball out of bounds past the end line, leading to a Tigard corner kick. Smith grabbed the ball and rushed to send a corner kick pass in front of the Caveman goal. Theodoroff, in a cluster of players from both teams, was able to get his foot of the ball, putting it into the goal, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead with 9:33 left to play in the contest.

"We just kept putting it in the box, and I was in the right place at the right time to get my foot on it," Theodoroff said. "He (Smith) was throwing them off, trying to get them when they weren't set and ready, and it worked. The ball popped in front of me, and I tried to get it as close to the net as I could. I don't think I scored in the playoffs before, so it's a great feeling."

Cleaver, and the Tigard defense, then stepped up to preserve the win. Cleaver, with 4:53 left to play, sprinted out to grab the ball right in front of Grants Pass senior Cade Anderson, who had an open path to the goal. Then, with 2:58 remaining, Cleaver grabbed a cross by Grants Pass junior David Ruiz in front of the Tiger goal.

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard High School sophomore Jesse Covarubias (left) controls the ball in front of Grants Pass junior Derek Potts during the Tiger' 1-0 state playoff win on Saturday."Our defense was spectacular throughout the game," Theodoroff said. "They had a few chances, and Jackson got his hands on them, but other than that, our defense shut them down the whole game."

"They had a couple of chances, but I came out and got them, and our defense was solid throughout," Cleaver said.

For the match, Tigard had seven shots on goal and two corner kicks. Grant had three shots on goal and three corner kicks.

Grant, the No. 4 team out of the Portland Interscholastic League, and the No. 6 team in the power rankings, brings an overall record of 9-3-3 into Wednesday's second round match.

Tigard, if it gets a win against the Generals on Wednesday, would either host Franklin, or play at Lincoln, in a state playoff quarterfinal match on Saturday.

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