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PREP SOCCER: Bufton's winning shot sounds good to Generals

Grant bumps Lincoln from 6A playoffs with 1-0 victory on late goal


It was a shot heard around the PIL, and around the state playoffs.

"A great ball. You could hear the sound when it came off the side of his foot. It was like a bullet," Grant boys soccer coach Manolis Tsuanakis says.

Tucker Bufton struck the shot for Grant. He one-timed it from about 25 yards, "and the goalkeeper had no chance," Tsuanakis says.

The shot gave Grant a 1-0 win over PIL rival Lincoln in their first-round Class 6A playoff game at Lincoln.

The 10th-ranked Generals avenged regular-season losses of 2-1 and 1-0 to the No. 7 Cardinals and advanced to Saturday's quarterfinal round. Grant will play a 2:30 p.m. game at No. 2-ranked Jesuit, the defending state champion.

"It wasn't necessarily that we got outplayed (by Lincoln) in the regular season," Tsuanakis says. "Sometimes the ball bounces different directions."

Tuesday's postseason meeting was just as close, and even more intense.

"A definite playoff atmosphere," Tsuanakis says. "One game and done, so mistakes are more costly than in the regular season. So going into the game I'm sure both teams and coaches were nervous. You could see in the first 10 minutes or so that both teams were playing very, very conservatively. You're hoping that you're not the one that makes a silly mistake that costs you a goal."

As the game progressed, "it got more intense and physical," Tsuanakis says, "but both teams kept their cool, and the referee did a great job officiating the game."

Neither team had many great chances, Tsuanakis says. For the last 10 minutes or so, Grant tried to pick up the pace with some substitutions and fresh legs.

The deciding play was initiated by Grant senior forward Xanders Whyte, one of three team captains.

"He did a good job taking on the defenders on the left side by the corner line and played a great ball into the middle," Tsuanakis says. "One of their defenders poked it away, though, and the ball rolled out to about 25 yards out."

Bufton, another senior co-captain, was rushing forward just as the ball came rolling out away from the goal.

"He was the trailing center mid," Tsuanakis says, "and the ball was rolling just perfectly. He used the inside of the foot and struck a quality ball."

Now it's on to Jesuit, a team Grant plays just about every year in early-season nonleague action. Jesuit beat the Generals 2-1 on Sept. 12 in Grant's third game of the 2013 schedule. Grant had to go with 10 men in the final 12-plus minutes.

"Jesuit is always a formidable opponent," Tsuanakis says. "It's going to be a battle. It's at their place, and they have a lot of their team back from last year."

Still, the Generals have had their moments, and they have allowed only eight goals in their past 10 matches, with first-year starting goalkeeper Cameron Chin, a junior, getting major help from a solid back line corps.

Seniors Isaac Archer, Dylan Wright and Aidan Schneider and sophomore Shanti Dudey "work well together and have done a heck of a job for us," Tsuanakis says. "I feel very good about our defense. One of the big keys for us against Jesuit will be if we don't make costly mistakes."

NOTES: No. 1-ranked Central Catholic also has advanced to the final eight in the 6A tourney. The Rams defeated visiting Sheldon 3-0 on Tuesday. They will play host to No. 24 Beaverton on Saturday. Kickoff is 2 p.m. at Delta Park's Strasser Field.