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Wolves start fast, then hold off Tigard rally
Boys soccer -- Tualatin stays unbeaten in Pacific Conference play with the 4-3 victory over Tigard
TIGARD - All of 20 minutes stood between Tualatin and a lopsided victory over Tigard.
The Tigers made the Timberwolves sweat through every one of them.
Relentless until the end, Tigard scored three late goals but it wasn't enough to overcome a 4-0 deficit as Tualatin hung on for the 4-3 boys soccer victory last Thursday at Tigard High School.
Tualatin remained undefeated in the Pacific Conference at 3-0-0 with the win, though the Wolves were far from pleased with how things transpired late in the match.
'We just got scored on three times in 20 minutes,' Tualatin sophomore Scott Senger said. 'We can't do that and expect to win. It should've been a landslide victory.'
And for much of the game, it looked to be so. The Wolves spread out three goals, including two by Senger, in the first half then scored again 15 minutes into the second half for a commanding 4-0 lead.
Tigard, which fell to 1-2 in conference play, hadn't taken a second-half shot until 22 minutes in. But the Tigers erupted for the three late goals primarily against Tualatin's backups, including the keeper position.
'Starting out flat has been our problem all season,' said senior midfielder Evan Samuelson, who had a goal and two assists for Tigard. 'This shows our team what we can really do. We can play 40 minutes. All we have to do is come out and make it 80.'
The Wolves dominated the first 40 minutes, taking seven shots to Tigard's three and scoring on three of them.
Sophomore Marshall Atmore gave Tualatin a 1-0 lead 10 minutes, 55 seconds into the game. Junior Kyle Wallace's throw-in was called for by the Tigard keeper near the left-corner of the 6-yard box, but the ball slipped through his hands to Atmore, who poked the game's first goal into the empty net.
Sixteen minutes later, Wallace played a ball in to Senger, who got behind the defenders and beat the charging keeper with a shot from 15 yards out that found the netting on the left side for a 2-0 lead.
Tualatin pressured the Tigers' goal throughout the first half and broke through again when Senger scored his second goal with 1:09 left in the half. Atmore passed to sophomore Kyle Wagner 10 yards out on the left side. As the goalkeeper charged him, Wagner flicked the ball to the right side where Senger controlled it in a crowd of three defenders near the right corner of the 6-yard box. With the keeper out of place, Senger managed to get a shot off into the empty goal for a 3-0 lead.
'We kept our composure and used the set plays we've been working on in practice,' Senger said. 'We did it crisp and sharp. We were pumped up in the first half. I thought we were home free. But we lollygaged after that.'
Luckily, the Wolves did manage to tack one more goal 15 minutes into the second half for what proved to be the difference-maker. Senior Todd Phillips sent a nice pass into Jordan Lichty, who took a shot that went off the diving goalkeeper and rolled to the left. Jarad van Schaik collected the ball just inside the 6-yard box and fired a hard shot into the top netting for a 4-0 lead.
'The first 60 minutes, as a coach, you couldn't ask for anything better,' Tualatin coach Eric McClellan said. 'But the last 20 minutes we were on our heels. If you don't put teams away, they'll take the most of the opportunity we give them.'
Tigard did just that with a frantic effort to cut into the deficit. Samuelson scored the Tigers' first goal in the 62nd minute. He finished a cross by senior midfielder Roland Mason with a nice touch, redirecting the ball toward the right side, off the outstretched goalkeeper's hands and into the back of the net.
'I saw the ball coming across and a guy in front of me,' Samuelson said. 'I didn't care where it went as long as it went in that direction.'
Five minutes later, junior midfielder Daniel Hunter raced toward the goal and beat the charging keeper with a shot from 10 yards out to make it 4-2.
Tigard made things even more interesting with its third goal at 75:09. Samuelson fought through a crowd of defenders near the end line and poked a cross from 15 yards away on the right past the keeper to senior midfielder Andrew Scheurich for an easy one-timer into the middle of the empty net.
The Tigers' best chance to tie came with two minutes left when Mason's free kick from 30 yards out was batted away by Tualatin goalkeeper Jake Howard.
'They went out to win the second half and I thought they did a good job,' Tigard coach Gus Araujo said. ' Hopefully we'll learn something about ourselves.'
On Tuesday, Tualatin beat Newberg 6-0 and Tigard battled Canby to a 2-2 tie.
Both teams will be back in action tonight (Thursday). Tualatin hosts McMinnville in a league showdown and Tigard will be home to face Newberg at 7 p.m.