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Tigard girls soar to pair of postseason victories

Water polo: The Tigers will face Newberg Friday in a state tourney semifinal game

CORVALLIS - It's not as if the Tigard High School girls water polo team has been struggling this season.

The Tigers have actually been playing well, it's just that they've been stuck in the dominant Pacific Conference with state powerhouses Newberg and Tualatin.

But, as the state playoffs opened, Tigard got its chance to really shine, and the Tigers made the most of that opportunity.

Tigard first scored a 10-6 state playoff win over Redmond and followed that up with a 10-8 state tournament quarterfinal victory over David Douglas in games played Friday at the Osborn Aquatic Center.

'We've been playing well all season,' Tigard coach John Ruzicka said. 'We've just been in a real tough conference.'

With the two victories, Tigard, the No. 3 team out of the Pacific Conference, advanced to the semifinals of the state tournament, which will be held Friday at the Osborn Aquatic Center. Tigard will meet Newberg Friday in a semifinal match starting at 5 p.m.

'That will be a tough one,' Ruzicka said. 'We'll see what we can do.'

Tigard, in last week's playoff opener with Redmond, got early goals from freshman Liz Irving and senior Tess Langseth to take a 2-0 lead. And the Tigers didn't trail the rest of the way.

Langseth added two goals in the second quarter. Sophomores Taylor Roth and Kayla Wagenhofer each added one goal in the period as the Tigers took a 6-3 halftime lead.

Langseth and Wagenhofer scored back-to-back goals to start the third quarter, pushing the margin to 8-3. Roth scored a pair of goals in the fourth quarter as Tigard closed out the 10-6 victory.

'We didn't play great, and Redmond is a strong team,' Ruzicka said. 'We started getting some good shots. Taylor Roth made some crazy shots from the edge of the pool.'

In the state tourney quarterfinal win over David Douglas, Tigard got a standout performance in goal from senior Brett Higgins.

In the three quarters she played goalie, Higgins had 15 saves.

'Brett Higgins played a great game,' Ruzicka said. 'When you have two 5-meter penalty shots against year, and neither is made, that's pretty good.'

In that match, David Douglas held a 1-0 lead after the first quarter, but Tigard came back to take a 3-2 lead with 4 minutes and 14 seconds left in the second quarter behind back-to-back goals by Higgins and freshman Emily Pfieffer. Langseth and Higgins each scored later in the period, giving the Tigers a 5-3 halftime lead.

Tigard, getting goals from Langseth and Roth in the third quarter, took a 7-4 lead into the final stanza.

Irving then scored a pair of goals in the fourth quarter to help Tigard put away the 10-8 victory.

'Our offense outperformed them,' Ruzicka said. 'They made a run toward the end, but our defense stifled them. It was a real team effort.'

Langseth led a balanced scoring attack in the win with three goals. Roth, Irving and Higgins each scored two goals.

'Liz Irving had a standout game,' Ruzicka said.

Tigard, if it beats Newberg on Friday, will meet either Tualatin or South Eugene in the state championship game, which is set for 5:45 p.m. on Saturday. If the Tigers lose to Newberg on Friday, they'll play Tualatin or South Eugene in the tourney third-place game Saturday at 3:15 p.m.