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Tualatin is putting everything together

Boys soccer -- The Wolves move closer to the Pacific Conference title with a 3-0 win over Tigard
by: JAIME VALDEZ, IN THE AIR — Tualatin senior Omar Cuevas (left) and Tigard senior Roland Mason race for the ball in last week’s match. The Timberwolves scored a 3-0 victory.

TUALATIN - It's all starting to come together for the Tualatin boys soccer team.

The Timberwolves are 9-0-0 in the Pacific Conference and 11-0-2 on the season despite periodic off games. One such match was a 4-3 victory over Tigard earlier this season in which the rival Tigers rallied for three late goals to make things interesting.

There would be no repeat in the rematch at Tualatin High School last Thursday. The Wolves were in command nearly all 80 minutes, scoring a 3-0 victory that moved them closer to a league title.

'This was one of our best in that we played the whole game and had no mental lapses,' Tualatin senior defender Todd Phillips said. 'I think we definitely have something special. The wins are adding up and we're gaining confidence.'

Tualatin plays at McMinnville (7-1-0) in a 5 p.m. game Thursday that will determine the conference championship.

Before then, the Wolves had to take care of a Tigard team that gave them fits late in their last match when the Tigers rallied from a 4-0 deficit with three goals in the final 20 minutes.

Tualatin again built a comfortable lead in Thursday's game, leading 2-0 at halftime. The Wolves never gave the Tigers a chance to respond in the second half, limiting them to just two shots while adding an insurance goal.

'It's always good to beat Tigard and fun because we know most of their players,' Tualatin senior Jarad Van Schaik said. 'We played pretty well everywhere. We have our off games, but we're still finding ways to win.'

Thursday was not one of those games.

Tualatin had a few near-misses before breaking through with a pair of goals in the final eight minutes of the first half. The first came when sophomore Scott Senger raced ahead to control a long, rolling pass from junior Jordan Lichty. Senger got to the ball just before Tigard goalkeeper Brian Kostol, tapped it ahead to himself and easily scored into the empty goal from 10 yards out with 7 minutes, 1 second left in the first half.

Five minutes later, Van Schaik proved he hasn't lost his touch despite missing much of the conference season with a bone bruise in his foot.

In his second game back, Van Schaik leisurely dribbled the ball near the outer left corner of the 18-yard box before turning it on and shimmying past a defender to the outside as he charged the goal. He gracefully worked inside past two more defenders before beating Kostol with a low-flying shot from 15 yards out for a 2-0 Tualatin lead.

'I got the ball and looked for the first option,' Van Schaik said. 'They closed it then I went to another option, but they closed that too. Finally I got by and hit it.'

Tualatin held the Tigers without a shot through the first 24 minutes of the second half and tallied its third goal 23 minutes in to gain some more breathing room.

Junior Kyle Wallace sent a nice cross from the right side that cleared the leaping header attempt of sophomore Marshall Atmore. Senior Jeff Matarrese was waiting just behind Atmore and even with the left post for a one-timer past the keeper and into the netting on the right side for a 3-0 lead.

Tigard had few chances to respond against a Wolves' defense that thwarted any attempts to penetrate.

'We realized we needed to play defense as a whole team,' Phillips said. 'Everyone needed to pitch in and we did that tonight.'

Tigard's first (and only serious) attempt on goal in the second half came in the 24th minute when senior Evan Samuelson's shot from 20 yards out went across the mouth of the goal before rolling wide of the right post.

The Tigers best chances came early in the game. Samuelson' hard shot from 20 yards out on the far right sailed just over the cross bar in the game's sixth minute. Five minutes later, Mason got on the other end of senior Thomas Laferriere's corner kick but his header cleared the cross bar.

'We started with intensity and kept it up. There were just a few lapses here and there,' Tigard senior midfielder Roland Mason said. 'I think we can move on and end the season with a few wins.'

The Tigers got one with a 3-0 victory over Canby on Tuesday. Tigard can clinch the conference's No. 3 playoff spot with a win Wednesday at Newberg. Results from that game were not available before the Times went to press.

Tualatin, on Monday, scored a 6-0 victory over Newberg with Matarrese scoring three goals.