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Tigers are young but optimistic

The Tigard High School girls soccer team is looking to turn in another strong season in 2006
by: DAN BROOD, TIGER LEADERS — The Tigers return three seniors in (from left) Kristen Kelly, Megan Moore and Courtney Schild.

TIGARD - With a group of young, talented players on the roster, the future looks pretty bright for the Tigard High girls soccer team.

The present isn't too shabby either.

With those young, talented players added to the mix with some proven veterans, the Tigers are taking some high hopes into the 2006 season.

'We're extremely young, but the girls are working hard,' second-year Tigard coach Chad Crosby said before the team's practice on Tuesday. 'I'm excited for the season. I'm confident we can finish second (in league play) again this season.'

Last year, Tigard finished second in Pacific-9 Conference play with a 6-2-0 league record. The Tigers also put together a 10-5-1 overall mark while reaching the second round of the state playoffs.

'We want to go farther than we did last year,' Tigard senior defender Megan Moore said. 'We've got a lot of new players this year. We'll work hard for each other.'

Moore is one of just three seniors on the Tiger varsity roster. Kristen Kelly, who was a first-team all-league pick at defender last year, and Courtney Schild, who was an honorable mention pick in the midfield last year, are the other two.

They also are optimistic about the season.

'We want to improve on what we did last year,' Kelly said. 'We've had some good bonding.'

'Things are going good so far,' Schild said. 'We're getting along well. This is a fun team to be on. There's a lot of personality out there.'

Schild will anchor Tigard's midfield again this year.

'She's strong there,' Crosby said.

She'll be joined in the midfield by some young players, including freshman Andrea Fisher and sophomore Nika Viamonte-Lyons.

'Her ball skills have come a long way,' Crosby said.

Junior Brittany Spelman, a returnee from last year's varsity, will play on the left side.

Tigard looks solid in the back, with Moore, Kelly and sophomore Alex Hogan, who was an honorable mention all-league pick a year ago, returning.

Junior Chelsea Gray returns at the goalkeeper spot for the Tigers.

On the offensive side of the field, Tigard will have to replace its top two goal scorers - including graduated senior Kenna Papen, who was a first-team all-league selection - from last year.

'Some of the new players and some of the older players will have to step up,' Crosby said.

Junior Amanda Howie returns for Tigard up front.

'She looks stronger this year,' Crosby said.

Freshman Mackenzie Bittinger will also be playing up front.

Other players for the Tigers include sophomore Kim Dazzo, who saw some varsity action last year, and sophomore Mellisa Forst.

'We just need to keep working hard and to stay focused,' Schild said.

As for the Pacific Conference this year, which is basically the same league as last year's Pac-9, except without Dallas, Silverton and Woodburn, Crosby sees defending league and state champion Tualatin as the favorite.

'I think they're even better this year,' Crosby said of the Wolves. 'But we always step up when we play Tualatin.'

'It's going to be a good test when we play Tualatin,' Schild said.

There should also be plenty of competition for the other top spots in the league.

'McMinnville is always strong,' Crosby said. 'It's going to be a battle every match.'

Tigard starts its season Tuesday when it plays at Clackamas in a non-league contest.