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Young Tigard team looks to step up

Girls soccer: The Tigers will be hoping to find more success during the 2011 season
by: DAN BROOD SUPER SOPHOMORE — Returnee Emilee Cincotta could be a key player for the Tigard girls this season.

TIGARD - If the Tigard High School girls soccer team has its way, the Tigers will have plenty of fun and success this season.

But, if the Tigers are going to reach those objectives, they'll have to do so with a mostly young squad.

That's because Tigard graduated seven players from last year's squad that finished second in the Pacific Conference standings at 12-2 while going 14-3 on the season and reaching the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

Tigard does return six seniors this season, but the Tigers will be adding four freshmen, six sophomores and two juniors to the roster.

'Our biggest challenge will be rising to the speed of the game,' Tigard coach Paul Slover said. 'High school soccer can be very fast and chaotic, we will want to slow the game down and try to keep the ball for as long as possible.'

Among the top returnees for the Tigers this season will be senior forward Jessica Lemieux.

'Jessica was instrumental in creating a great deal of the attacking from last year's squad,' Slover said. 'She is expected to score quite a few goals in her senior season.'

Sophomore Emilee Cincotta, who started a number of games for the Tigers last year, is expected to help both in the midfield and up front this year.

Seniors Karyl Kanada and Briana Piedra also return in the midfield.

Senior Hayley Bemis is a key returnee on defense while senior Jordan Janac will be a key returnee in the midfield.

'They will provide senior leadership and experience to the defensive and midfield lines, respectively,' Slover said. 'Both seniors want to end their high school careers on top.'

Kyla Smart is Tigard's other returning starter as a sophomore. She'll play in the midfield.

Berit Foster is the only returning junior with varsity playing experience.

'She'll be a leader from the back line,' Slover said.

Among the newcomers to the Tigard varsity are freshman Zoey Dahme and sophomore Cathy Lara, who are battling to take over as the Tigers' goalkeeper.

Four sophomores from last year's junior varsity team - forward Alexis Carter, midfielder Megan Franz, defender Erin Graham and midfielder Danielle Gedusky - are expected to play key roles. Senior newcomer Corrie Racanelli is expected to help as a forward and outside midfielder.

The team will also be counting on freshmen Madison Bickel, Sarah Schaffer and Rachel Simmons.

'All are expected to significant playing time and be contributing out of the gate,' Slover said.

The Tigers have some big cleats to fill if they're going to have continued success this season.

'Zoey and Cathy will be battling in goal (to replace graduated Brenna Cleveland,' Slover said. 'Erin Nyberg's goal production will need to be picked up by Jessica Lemieux, Madison Miller's durable midfield role will be taken over by Jordan Janac and Briana Piedra, Foster and Bemis will have to fill the void of Abby Fatland and Roxanne Raye.'

As for the Pacific Conference this season, Slover looks at Tualatin as the favorite.

'I see Tualatin as a final four contender in the state,' he said. 'We will aim to get to the quarterfinal slot again and hope to improve upon that.'

Tigard will next be in action tonight (Thursday) when it plays Glencoe in a league match starting at 7 p.m. at Hare Field in Hillsboro. On Tuesday, the Tigers travel to Tualatin to face the rival Timberwolves at 7 p.m.