Timberwolves triumph in intense battle
Girls soccer -- Tualatin comes away with a 1-0 victory in its rematch with its Tigard rivals
TIGARD - There was plenty of emotion.
There was a heck of a lot of spirit and intensity.
There was plenty of well-played soccer.
There even was, for awhile at least, a lot of fog covering the artificial turf field.
But, in this showdown between rivals, there was only one goal - and only one winner.
And that winner was Tualatin.
The Tualatin High School girls soccer team clamped onto sole possession of Pacific Conference supremacy with it's hard-fought 1-0 win over Tigard in a match played last Thursday at Tigard High School.
'This feels very good, especially for the seniors,' Tualatin senior Lindsey Wilcox said after the match. 'We wanted to go out with a win in our last game with Tigard. It's always fun when we play them. You never know what's going to happen, and we have so much respect for them.'
With the win, the top-ranked Timberwolves improved to 7-0-1 in league play and to 10-0-2 on the season at that point.
'This is huge,' said Tualatin sophomore forward Courtney Verloo, who scored the only goal of the match. 'Tigard is always one of our big games. It was pretty intense. Everyone was working hard. Everyone was giving 100 percent.'
Tigard, which battled Tualatin to a 1-1 tie back on Sept. 28, moved to 5-1-2 in league play and to 8-1-3 on the season with the setback.
'We were all excited for this game,' Tigard senior midfielder Courtney Schild said. 'It was the best we've played all year. It was very intense.'
The Tigers showed their intensity early, as they seemed to control a good part of the action in the first 20 minutes of the contest.
But the Tualatin defense, featuring sophomore Annah Kennedy, sophomore Stephanie Clark, who substituted for sophomore Lauren Butz, who injured an ankle in the early going and sophomore Shelby Hawkinson, playing in front of senior goalie Lindsay Parlee, kept the Tigers off the scoreboard.
The Tigers, in the opening 20 minutes, got shots at the Timberwolf goal from freshman midfielder Andrea Fisher, from junior midfielder Brittany Spelman, from Schild and from sophomore midfielder Nika Viamonte-Lyons.
Spelman, with her shot from 25 yards out coming with 28 minutes and 9 seconds left in the first half, had the closest call for Tigard. Parlee had to dive to make the stop on that shot before it crossed the goal line.
The Wolves, who won their first state title a year ago, then seemed to find their rhythm. Tualatin, turning up its intensity, got shots from Kennedy, on a free kick, and from junior Ally Schaeffer that were just off the mark.
Tualatin, with 11 minutes left in the first half, looked to have a prime scoring opportunity when Verloo fired a hard shot on goal from 10 yards out. But Tigard junior goal keeper Chelsea Gray, diving to her right, was able to block the ball. Schaeffer, hustling to the ball, fired a rebound shot toward the open goal, but Tigard senior defender Kristen Kelly, sprinting in, was able to get a foot on the shot, making the save.
However, the next time Verloo and the Wolves got an opportunity, they wouldn't be denied.
With 6:04 left in the first half, Verloo, from the far right corner of the field, hit a curving shot that ricocheted off the left post of the Tigard goal and bounded into the net, giving Tualatin a 1-0 lead.
'That was a lucky bounce. It was really exciting,' Verloo said with a smile. 'There was a great through-ball pass to me and I was looking to hit a cross. But I didn't see anyone there, so I just tried to curve it in toward the goal.'
'That was amazing,' Wilcox said of the goal. 'She had one of the best defenders in the state on her when she took that shot.'
'It was unfortunate for us,' Schild said.
A thick, low-hovering fog rolled across the field right before the teams started play in the second half. But that didn't seem to put a damper on the intensity.
'I looked at the scoreboard at halftime and said `we've got 40 minutes left against Tualatin,'' Schild said. 'The intensity seemed to grow every second.'
The Tigers, throughout those last 40 minutes, tried to get the equalizer. Junior forward Amanda Howie had the best opportunities for the home team. Her running shot on goal with 25:27 left in the match was saved by Parlee. Then, with 9:38 to play, Howie's bending attempt for 25 yards out was also grabbed by Parlee.
Still, the Tigard defense, featuring Kelly, senior Megan Moore and sophomore Alex Hogan, wouldn't let Tualatin score any insurance goals.
The Wolves had second-half shots on goal from senior Rachelle Kliewer, Verloo, Kennedy and senior Niki Paulson, but they were either just off the mark or saved by Gray.
That kept things intense until the final horn sounded.
'None of us could relax until Courtney (Verloo) got the ball with 5 seconds left,' Wilcox said.
Five seconds later, the Tualatin celebration began.
'That was real exciting,' Tualatin coach Rossano Rocha said. 'It never fails. It's always like this when we play Tigard. It was a real good test for us. The girls stepped up.'
'It was a great match and, if we have to lose, that's a good team to lose to,' Tigard coach Chad Crosby said. 'We had been struggling the last few weeks coming in, so I was happy to see the girls step up and play with drive and intensity. We had some opportunities, but we just didn't finish them.'
Tualatin, on Monday, won 4-0 at Newberg to wrap up the Pacific Conference championship. Tigard, on Tuesday, was upset 4-3 at Canby.