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Girls soccer: Scappoose still with room to improve after 2-0 week

With half the season already in the books, the defending 4A state soccer champion Indians are sitting in a pretty comfortable spot: they've allowed just two goals through the first seven contests, have firm control of the Cowapa League lead and are fresh off a 13-0 thrashing of Tillamook on Sept. 25 and a 4-1 defeat of Banks on Tuesday.

Still, head coach Nicholas Heffernan sees room for improvement. His lofty expectation of five goals through 14 regular season matches and three playoff games — yes, that includes the state title match — are still well within the Indians' grasp as the only team to have truly given up two goals or less in all of Class 4A*.

And when asked if the 13-nil crushing of Tillamook was the best the team could perform, Heffernan shook his head.

“We can be a lot better. A lot, a lot better,” he said. “I don't want to take anything away from Tillamook, but our normal fast-paced, one-two-three in the middle of the park, Davidson, Frank and Muth, we can't really do it in games like this because you've got so much time. It's just nice an easy, instead of [when] we haven't got time and its bang-bang-bang. That's when they really shine.”

The technical aspect of the game might be prettier when Scappoose is forced to outwork an opponent, but against Tillamook, goals came thick and fast.

Amanda Orr scored in the third minute, followed by the first goal — and then the second goal — from junior Lucy Davidson. Fellow junior Natalie Muth got in to the action in the 16th minute, with a hat trick from Davidson soon afterward in the 18th minute.

Midway through the first half, Lauren Frank scored, and Heffernan had seen enough. Holding a 6-nil lead, the second-year head coach pulled things back, dotted the lineup with freshmen and began looking for something other than easy-to-bed goals.

“Games like this, it can be quite hard to do our normal thing, but second half especially, one of the things this year is we want to play to our wings,” Heffernan said. “We want to get balls in the box, and we said our goal for this second half [is to] get out wide, put crosses in. We must have had over 30 in the second half, and we took them well when they came.”

The second half saw a continued barrage from the Indians, but this time, the scores came from far more unlikely sources. A brace from junior Eleanor Jones and a score from senior forward Kim Carpenter with 11 minutes remaining provided the framework for a hat trick from freshman Mackenzie Ela, and a 68th minute score from freshman Georgia Jory on a curving ball that swung into the Tillamook goal from the end line.

Ela finished off her hat trick with a pair of back-to-back goals in the 78th and 79th minute, putting a cherry on top of the Indians' most dominant victory since Scappoose flattened Tillamook in 2012.

Getting experience and valuable playing time for the young freshman was a big point of emphasis for Heffernan, who has talked at length about the talent and ability from the top to the bottom of the roster outside of the Indians' big names.

“Especially the freshmen, now they know they can score,” he said. “They know they can assist. It's not just, 'oh, let's leave it to the older girls.' They know they can do it themselves, which is a positive for the whole team. Just kind of getting stronger and stronger day by day and keeping our goals and knowing what we've got to do to win it again.”

The Tribe offense “slowed” in a 4-1 defeat of Banks on Sept. 30, allowing their first goal since falling 1-nil to OES on Sept. 18. The mark ties the red-hot start in 2009, the last time Scappoose allowed only two goals through the first seven games of the season. And in comparison to a year ago, when the Indians let in 14 goals in the first half of the year, it's a major improvement.

Scappoose hosted Seaside on Thursday, Oct. 2, and will kick off a surefire league rivalry with No. 7 Valley Catholic at Chinook Field on Oct. 7 at 4:15 p.m. in a match Heffernan says the girls have been looking forward to since before the season began.

*No. 1 Molalla lost 3-1 to Philomath on Sept. 18, but was awarded a win because Philomath had used an ineligible player in the match. Forfeits count as wins and losses in the ranking system used to determine playoff seeding.