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Tigers are young, but still optimistic

Tigard is looking to vie for a top spot in the Pacific Conference


TIGARD — The Tigard High School girls soccer team is young this year.

Really young.

But that’s OK with the Tigers. Despite their youth, they’re taking high hopes into the 2012 season.

“I think it’s going to be a good year,” Tigard coach Paul Slover said. “We may start three freshmen in each game and we’ve got a bunch of sophomores that will all play. It’s a young group and they all play a similar game. They’ve come together quickly as a team.”

While Tigard will be young this year, the team also has some key returnees from last year’s squad that went 7-4-4 on the season while placing third in the Pacific Conference standings at 7-3-4.

Among the key returnees is junior Kyla Smart.by: DAN BROOD - HIGH KICK -- Tigard High School senior Berit Foster (right) should be a key returnee for the Tigers on defense this season.

“She’ll play everywhere,” Slover said. “We’ll probably start her up front, but we can put her anywhere on the field.”

Junior forward Emilee Cincotta is another key returning starter for the Tigers. Freshman Natalie Bryant will also play up front. Bryant scored Tigard’s first goal of the season, coming in a 2-0 season-opening victory over Gresham in a match played last Thursday at Tigard High School.

In the midfield, Tigard has junior returnee Megan Franz. Junior Erin Graham will also play in the midfield, as will freshman Ellie Freeman.

“I think she has the most energy,” Slover said.

On defense, Tigard will have a pair of young players in the middle in sophomore Sarah Schaffer and freshman Rachel Josephson.

Senior Berit Foster, a returning starter and second-team All-Pacific Conference selection last year, returns on the outside for the Tiger defense. Sophomore Madison Bickel will also play on the outside on defense. Sophomore Zoey Dahme returns at goalkeeper.

Other players on the Tigard varsity roster include senior forward Sara Brazier, junior defender Danielle Gedusky, sophomore defender Faithe Wantland, freshman defender Raney Roche, sophomore midfielder Rachel Simmons, senior forward Cathy Lara, sophomore midfielder Anna Crosswhite and freshman goalkeeper Larysa Cleaver.

“I think our ability to keep the ball will be one of our strengths,” Slover said. “Once we get our confidence, I think we’ll be able to dictate play more. We hope to control the pace of the game.”

As for the Pacific Conference, Slover sees defending league and state champion Tualatin as being the team to beat.

“They’re the favorite to win state again,” he said. “Our goal is to give them a good game. We target to challenge them for the title. If we get confidence, we’ll we be in a position to challenge.”