Class 6A boys soccer — The Tigers see their break-through season end in playoff loss

WEST LINN — Still tied 0-0 through 20 minutes of Newberg’s second round state playoff contest versus West Linn, it looked as if the Tigers might be content to play to a second consecutive scoreless draw and take their chances in a penalty kick shootout.

Newberg, which recorded its ninth shutout of the season against Sunset in the first round of the state playoffs Nov. 2, was pressured by a persistent Lions attack early on, but firmly held its ground. by: SETH GORDON - Cool under pressure - Freshman center back Peter Gentile marks a West Linn player during Newberg's 3-0 loss Nov. 4 in a second-round playoff game.

The Tigers, however, were undone by a critical error five minutes later, conceding a penalty kick that West Linn converted for a 1-0 lead. The Lions kept their foot on the gas offensively, effectively neutralizing Newberg’s attack, finally adding a pair of late goals to win 3-0 and end the Tigers’ season Saturday.

“The boys played well,” head coach M.J. Tate said. “The penalty was the backbreaker.”

The Tigers regrouped on defense following the penalty kick and effectively turned back the host Lions’ offensive forays, but were limited offensively as West Linn controlled possession and kept play in Newberg’s half of the field for most of the game.

As occupied as it was in defending, Tate’s team struggled to link up effectively enough to push the ball far up field and create opportunities for goals.

With the Tigers forced to sell out offensively in the final minutes in search of a tying goal, West Linn took advantage of the newly created space to create chances on the counterattack.

With about 12 minutes remaining, Tate pulled Ryan Vincent from goal to insert him as an additional tall finishing option in the box, but the Lions took advantage of Newberg’s suddenly directionless defense before he could even get on the field.

Unorganized in Vincent’s absence, the Tigers surrendered a sloppy goal while half-heartedly defending a corner kick with 9:51 to play.

West Linn struck again four minutes later, quickly creating a breakaway opportunity that Jackson Brooke converted to inflate the final score.

“I would say the story of our season was goals,” Tate said. “We’re not scoring enough. We’re organized when defending and pretty good on the counter attack, but we’re not dangerous in the attacking third.”

Still, the Tigers (10-7-2) made great strides in Tate’s second year, finishing with a winning record for the first time in many years and advancing to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in school history.

“The legacy is there,” Tate said. “These guys have earned the right to be in the archives of the program. Wherever we’ve gone, people are talking about Newberg and that’s what I told them. That’s never happened before. They’ve been the catalyst for putting our program on the map, so I’m incredibly proud.”

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