With a new head coach and young roster, Tigers battle through tough three-game stretch

SETH GORDON - Newberg goalie Yovanni Lopez charges out of his net during Newberg's 2-0 home loss to La Salle Prep Sept. 6. Lopez also saved a penalty kick in the loss.

The Newberg boys soccer team was already facing several challenges, including adjusting to a new coach and breaking in a young and inexperienced lineup following the graduation of a large and successful senior class, before heading into recent stretch of games versus tough nonconference opponents.

Their task got tougher as several of the Tigers' best and most experienced players suffered injuries in games versus West Linn, La Salle and Jesuit.

But all things considered, new head man Carlos Pehr was pretty pleased with his teams' progress after tying the Lions 1-1 and falling 2-0 to both the Falcons and Crusaders.

"We only had four or five returners and everyone else is brand new," Pehr said. "We have three freshmen and eight sophomores, none of whom played varsity last year but have spectacular talent. Injuries have plagued us and the funny thing is it's been our upperclassmen, guys that are typically going to start. So now it's putting some pieces together, readjusting and finding out where we want to go with this."

Pehr said he was especially pleased with the team's effort Sept. 4 at West Linn, as the team went up early and played with more confidence. The Tigers saw the other side of that coin in the loss to La Salle Sept. 6 and the setback against Jesuit Monday night.

"It's taking some getting used to and understanding that in high school, 1-0 games are a lot more typical than in club (play), where it's often 4-1, 5-1," Pehr said. "So being down 1-0 can go a long way in determining how you're going to perform in the game because if you're battling back 15 minutes in, decision-making starts to be a little more fuzzy, playing as a team is less attractive. But, overall, I thought they battled back and had decent form to finish out those games."

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