Tigers beat Tualatin to stay in first place in the standings

by: DAN BROOD - HEADS UP -- Tigard High School junior Jake O'Brien (4) heads the ball toward the Tualatin goal as Timberwolf junior Luis Martinez (17) approches during Monday's match at Tualatins. TUALATIN — Sure, it was a big win.

Sure, it came against their rivals.

And, yes, it kept them alone in first place in the conference standings.

But, despite all of that, the Tigers don’t want to lose their focus.

And the Tigard High School boys soccer team sure seemed to keep its focus on Monday when it powered its way to a 4-1 win over rival Tualatin in a Pacific Conference match played at Tualatin High School.

“This is a big win for us, and it’s nice to beat our rivals at their place,” said Tigard senior Charles Petitjean, who had two of the Tigers’ goals in the win. “But we have to stay focused. We need to finish up strong.”

Tualatin moved to 1-3 in conference play and to 5-5 on the season with the setback. Tigard upped its overall mark to 6-3-1 while improving to 3-0-1 in Pacific Conference matches, putting the first-place Tigers three points ahead of McMinnville and Newberg, who are tied for second at 2-1-1.

“We want to take first in league, but we have bigger goals,” Petitjean said. “Any team that gets hot in the playoffs can win state.”

Tigard sure seemed to have a hot start to Monday’s match — on both ends of the field.

Tiger senior Sean McManamon had a close-range leaping header attempt off a cross from junior Jake O’Brien in the opening minutes of the match, with the ball drifting just wide left of the Tualatin goal.

On the other end of the field, Tiger senior goalkeeper Joni Mercado leaped to knock away a header by Tualatin senior Cristian Silvestre coming off a corner kick with 31 minutes and 40 seconds left in the first DAN BROOD - USING HIS HEAD -- Tigard senior Javier Sanchez-Figueroa (right) heads the ball as he goes up next to Tualatin junior Javier Miranda.

About 10 minutes later, Tigard made one of its corner kicks count.

With 20:58 remaining in the first half, the Tigers took a 1-0 lead when Petitjean leaped high and headed in a shot off a corner kick by senior Javier Sanchez-Figueroa coming from the left corner.

“Javier started it,” Petitjean said. “He hit a good one, and I was able to knock it in down the middle.”

Tualatin tried to answer back, getting a close-range running header attempt by senior Graham Fletcher with 18:45 left in a the half and a hard-hit shot from 20 yards away by senior Cesar Perez a minute later, but both of those shots sailed just barely over the crossbar of the Tiger goal.

Tiger then upped its lead to 2-0 when McManamon put a free-kick shot from 30 yards out inside the left post of the Timberwolf goal with 16:44 left in the half.

Tualatin, getting a goal with less then nine minutes remaining in the first half, trimmed the Tiger lead to 2-1 at the intermission.

But the Tigers wouldn’t let the home team get any closer in the second half.

With 25 minutes remaining in the match Tigard junior Clint Raye scored off an assist from senior Drew Bankston to up the lead to 3-1.

The scoring play started with a corner kick that went to the back post. Bankston hit the ball back across the goal mouth, where Raye tapped it into the net.

Tigard struck again 10 minutes later, when Petitjean scored off a throw-in assist from senior Mick Whitehead.

After getting the ball, Petitjean worked his way past a pair of defenders into the 6-yard box, where he hit his shot into the net to cap off the scoring in the Tigers’ 4-1 victory.

by: DAN BROOD - AT THE GOAL -- Tigard's (dark uniforms, from left) Javier Sanchez-Figueroa, Sean McManamon, Jake O'Brien and Charles Petitjean battle Tualatin's Graham Fletcher and Cristian Silvestre for the ball. “I was very pleased with our ability to get a hold of the game in the second half,” Tigard coach Tracy Hasson said. “Always exciting playing in games of this nature. But, more importantly, we were able to put a good performance together, which is the ultimate goal in looking forward to the playoffs. I was very happy with every single player. It was a collaborative effort that showed our depth and consistency from each player on the team.”

Both teams were scheduled to play on Wednesday. Tigard was slated to play at Hillsboro while Tualatin traveled to McMinnville. Results of those matches weren’t available when The Times went to press.

Both local squads will be back in action on Tuesday. Tigard will host Newberg and Tualatin will be home to face Century in 7 p.m. conference matches.

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