Tualatin boys get long-awaited playoff victory
TUALATIN — It's been quite a wait.
But, for the Tualatin High School boys soccer team, it very well may have been worth it.
The Timberwolves picked up their first state playoff win since the 2012 season by powering its way to a 2-0 victory over McKay in a Class 6A state playoff first round match played Saturday at Tualatin High School.
"This is really big for us," Tualatin senior defender Nathan Buckalew said. "We haven't won a state playoff game (in a long time). Last year (a 3-2 loss to Liberty) was a rough loss, and coming back from that, I'm really happy with my team and how we did."
"It's huge. It's huge for this program," Tualatin coach Chris Duke said. "We've been a program that has been working really hard the past few years to kind of get over the hump. We've been competitive, we've made it to the playoffs, we just seem to have a hard time getting that first one. So, the fact that we got this one means a lot for the program."
With the loss, McKay, the No. 4 team out of the Mountain Valley Conference, and the No. 18 team in the final OSAA power rankings, finished its season with a final overall record of 7-5-3.
With the win, its first play off victory since getting a 3-1 home win against Centennial in a 2012 state playoff first-round match, Tualatin, the No. 2 team out of the Three Rivers League, and the No. 15 team in OSAA power rankings, improved to 12-3 on the season. The Wolves also advance to the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs, where they'll face Reynolds in a game set to start at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Gresham High School.
"Now, I feel like we're going to keep rolling, honestly," Buckalew said. "We're competitive, and I think we can beat anyone in the state at this point. Everyone is competitive in the final 16."
"After you get the first one, anything can happen," Duke said. "It gives us momentum, gives us belief, and makes us wonder, 'why not us?'"
The Wolves, in Saturday's playoff opener, got its first goal near the midway point of the first half. Tualatin freshman forward Remus Repcak was driving with the ball when he sent a cross to senior forward Jose Hyre, who drilled a shot into the upper right corner of the McKay goal, giving the Wolves a 1-0 lead.
Tualatin got its second goal about 15 minutes into the second half. Timberwolf senior forward Emmanuel Mayares was controlling the ball on the end line and then hit a pass back to Repcak, who put a shot inside the far post of the McKay goal, upping the lead to 2-0.
From there, the Tualatin defense, including Buckalew, senior Hunter Popma, junior Cole Richmond and sophomore Cesar Jacintos, among others took over, shutting down the Scots.
"We clamped up. We don't get scored on," Buckalew said.
"The key was the same thing it's been all year, and that's defense," Duke said "For us, it all starts in the back. When we get one (goal), it feels like we get two. The fact that we have another clean sheet, in a season where we've given up less than 10 goals, that says a lot. And, that's not to forget our guys up top, who are doing pretty good. They've found the chemistry to make us dangerous. We got two tonight, and that was enough."
Tualatin senior goalkeeper Ian Stuart made a save on a shot by McKay junior Luis Garcia Miranda, the Scots' final shot on goal, coming with 8:14 left to play, securing the 2-0 playoff victory.
"I feel like we just wanted it way more than they did," Buckalew said. "We won every ball. I don't feel like we did anything special, that was a good team, but we just wanted it more. This is the best feeling."
"I'm really happy for the players who put in all the work to be here," Duke said. "I'm happy for the community and the school, and the guys who have been around the soccer program. This is big for us and the future of the program."
Reynolds, the No 2 team out of the Mt. Hood Conference, and the No. 2 team in the OSAA power rankings, brings an overall record of 11-1-3 into Wednesday's second-round match.
Tualatin, if it wins against Reynolds on Wednesday, will play at either Cleveland or Sunset in a state playoff quarterfinal match on Saturday.
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