Lacrosse: The Tigard boys fight off South Salem to score an 11-10 win
by: DAN BROOD, STICK WITH IT — Tigard’s Andrew Cox (41) battles South Salem’s Alex Leonard for the ball in Friday’s match. The Tigers won 11-10.

TIGARD - The Tigard High School boys lacrosse team has set a lofty goal.

And, thanks to a determined effort on Friday, Tigard still has that goal in its sights.

The Tigers, who are aiming to go undefeated in North Valley League play, kept their perfect league record intact by scoring an 11-10 win over South Salem in a league game played Friday at Tigard High School.

'That's real important to us,' said Tigard senior attacker Andrew Cox, who led a balanced Tiger scoring attack in the victory with four goals. 'We want to do that for the second year in a row. We're hoping to be undefeated throughout the league season.'

With the win, Tigard improved its North Valley League record to 4-0 at that point while also improving its overall mark to 7-3.

'To be undefeated in league is one of our season goals,' said Tigard coach Grant Phillips. 'So far, we're on track.'

But staying on track wasn't easy going up against a persistent South Salem team, which dropped to 0-2 in league play, with both losses coming against the Tigers.

'South Salem played a great game,' Cox said. 'They really came out to play. It was a good thing for us to come out with the win.'

The Tigers never trailed in the contest, but they had to fight off Saxon rallies throughout the game.

'It was nice to see our guys rise above and step up to the challenge,' Phillips said.

Cox gave Tigard a 1-0 lead when he scored off a pass from sophomore Shane Saunders coming with 9 minutes and 45 seconds left in the first quarter.

South Salem tied the game at 1-1 just over a minute later on a goal by Phil Grenz, but the Tigers regained the lead, at 2-1, when junior Sean Stebbins scored on a shot from left of the goal coming off an assist from Tigard sophomore Omar Horani coming with 7:32 remaining in the opening period.

The Saxons tied the game again, at 2-2, on a goal by Greg Loney, but the Tigers answered back right away.

Tigard got back-to-back goals from Saunders and junior Jonathan Langvin, coming just 13 seconds apart, to give the Tigers a 4-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.

South Salem scored the first two goals of the second quarter to again tie up the match. But, once again, the Tigers answered back and wouldn't let the Saxons take the lead.

Tigard regained the advantage, at 5-4, on a spinning shot by Langvin coming with 6:11 left in the first half.

The Saxons tied the game again, at 5-5, on a goal with 2:34 left in the second quarter. But Tigard, getting goals from Cox, off an assist from junior Dillon Grover, and from Saunders in the final 1:19 of the half, claimed a 7-5 lead at the intermission.

Tigard, getting gals from Stebbins and Cox early in the third quarter, opened up its biggest lead of the game, at 9-5.

But South Salem, getting back-to-back goals from Brian Myers, quickly trimmed the margin to two, at 9-7, with a 7:56 left in the third. However, the Saxons wouldn't be able to score again in the period.

Langvin scored on a short-range goal to up the Tiger lead to 10-7 with 4:01 left in the quarter.

Then, with 3:30 to play in the period, the 6-foot-5 Cox, who was a standout for the Tigard football and wrestling teams, reached up high to pull in a pass from Saunders and then he slammed down a hard bounce-shot goal to give Tigard an 11-7 lead.

'Being big helps,' Cox said with a smile. 'Shane made a good pass. He put it right where it had to be, and I was able to finish.'

South Salem tried to rally again in the fourth quarter. Sam Morrell scored a pair of goals for the Saxons to cut the lead to 11-9 with 6:03 left in the contest. But Tigard, patient on offense and tough on defense, made it tough for South Salem to get any closer.

Tigard junior midfielder Travis Horton came up with a steal with 31 seconds to play to thwart a Saxon scoring threat. South Salem did score again, on a shot by Myers coming with 9 seconds to play, cutting the Tigard lead to 11-10.

But Langvin controlled the ensuing face-off to wrap up the Tiger victory.

'The kids played hard and they made some nice adjustments,' Phillips said. 'It was a good win.'

Langvin had three goals for Tigard in the victory. Stebbins and Saunders each scored twice. Tigard senior goalie Gino Valenziano made 11 saves.

Myers led South Salem with four goals.

Tigard picked up another win on Tuesday when it posted a 16-10 league victory at Sprague.

The Tigers will be back in action Friday when they play at West Salem at 7 p.m. On Tuesday, Tigard plays at Corvallis at 8 p.m.

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