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NHS opens league play with a flourish


The Tigers blank McMinnville 3-0 and secure a thrilling 2-1 win over Glencoe to move into a three-way tie for first atop the Pacific Conference standings

After a strong start to the season, Newberg hit the ground running in the Pacific Conference play, beating rival McMinnville 3-0 and finally besting recent league nemesis Glencoe 2-1 last week to move atop the league standings alongside traditional powers Tualatin and Tigard.

While the Tigers overcame a slow start to comfortably handle the Grizzlies on the road Oct. 1, head coach Jon Halstead’s squad played its best soccer of the season two days later at home, but for some reason could not get the scoreboard to match what was a dominating performance on the field. by: SETH GORDON - Leap frog - Newberg senior Hannah Green deftly maneuvers around the ball during the Tigers' thrilling 2-1 victory over visiting Glencoe Oct. 3 at Loran Douglas Field. NHS dominated the run of play, but needed a Dallin Esmond free kick with 53.3 seconds remaining to secure the win.

Against McMinnville, it took Newberg about 20 minutes to gather itself, get organized and gain control of play, but things began to flow freely after Megan Myers opened the scoring on an assist from Dallin Esmond in the 23rd minute.

Myers, who has been making the nets sing this season thanks in large part to effective build-up by the team and excellent service in the attacking third, added two more in the second half to put the game out of reach. The junior forward headed home a ball from fellow forward Sam Russo just over five minutes into the second half and was set up by Russo again with about 10 minutes to play.

The Tigers were in fine form early against the Crimson Tide, but fell behind 15 minutes in after Glencoe scored directly on a corner kick, which was its first shot on goal for the game.

Just under 13 minutes later, Myers returned the favor to Russo from the previous game, sending a ball through the box that the senior deflected home at the back post while fighting off two defenders.

Glencoe created just one clear-cut scoring chance from open play, but was dangerous on set pieces, especially corner kicks, almost breaking the deadlock following one just two minutes from the break, but freshman defender Kailen Horton cleared the ball off the line for Newberg after the Crimson Tide pounced on a loose ball in the box.

“We gave up one goal, which was a mistake on our part,” Halstead said. “But that’s the best defensive game we’ve played.”

The Tigers seized control of possession early in the second half and began to lay siege to the Glencoe goal, creating at least seven quality scoring chances in the second half to just one for the visitors. That included at least one Myers shot that hit the cross bar, several clear shots or headers that went just wide, as well as several excellent saves from the Crimson Tide keeper, including one on a penalty kick with 3:47 to play.

Myers controlled the ball and turned just inside the box to elude one defender and drew the penalty when a second just bowled her over, but did not get enough pace on her penalty kick, as the goalie guessed correctly to make the save.

“She’s giving us all kinds of chances when she knows that she’s being targeted,” Halstead said of Myers. “She said she thrives on that, she likes the challenge. That gives her the opportunity to dish the balls here and there to create other opportunities.”

Following another near goal by Myers two minutes after the penalty, Lindsay Louis capped a strong performance in the midfield by drawing a foul 30 yards from the goal to give Newberg one more clear chance to score with just over a minute to play.

At the insistence of Halstead, Esmond stepped up to take the free kick, unleashing a dipping ball that carried the Crimson Tide wall before tucking under the bar to give the Tigers a thrilling victory that was far beyond deserved.

“That was the best game we’ve ever played, so I think that’s going to give us confidence,” Esmond said. “We haven’t played like that in a while.”

The Tigers (5-2-1 overall, 2-0 Pacific Conference) rose to No. 10 in the state rankings — their highest ascent this far into the season since the rankings were introduced at the start of the current quadrennial — heading into their lone game of the week Tuesday at defending champion Tualatin (results unavailable at press time).

“The last two years we’ve come out on the wrong end of the stick, so it feels good to finally beat these guys. They’re a good, quality side,” Halstead said of No. 15 Glencoe. “They’ve played some tough competition. This just shows what we can do when we work hard and is a credit to all 18 of them. It doesn’t take just 11. It takes all 18.”