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Tigers taking aim at the top

Tigard will rely on a strong group of returnees this season


by: DAN BROOD - VETERAN TIGER -- Tigard High School senior Emilee Cincotta (right), shown here in a 2012 state playoff match with Beaverton, is beginning her fourth season on the Tiger varsity roster. TIGARD — Last year, the Tigard High School girls soccer team started five freshmen.

Those players are now a year older and picked up some very valuable experience.

Last year, the Tigers had a standout group of juniors.

Those players are now seniors, and leaders.

Add in some other key players, and you have what Tigard is hoping will be a recipe for success.

“We expect to compete for a league title and have hopes to compete late in November during the playoffs,” Tigard coach Paul Slover said. “Our expectation is to work intelligently with a great deal of effort. We want to play a certain way that is fun to watch and gets results. We will not leave one stone unturned in our pursuit of getting to the finals.”

Tigard looks to have a strong group of returning players back from last year’s Tiger squad that tied Tualatin for the top spot in the Pacific Conference standings, at 6-0-1, while also going 12-2-3 on the season and reaching the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A state playoffs.

Among those returnees is senior midfielder Emilee Cincotta, who was a first-team All-Pacific Conference selection and an honorable mention Class 6A All-State pick last year.

Cincotta will also be one of four senior captains for the squad.

The other senior captains are midfielder Megan Franz, midfielder Erin Graham and forward Kyla Smart. Graham was a first-team all-league pick last year, Smart was a second-team selection and Franz was an honorable mention pick.

“This group will be leading by example and have a great deal to say about how the season transpires,” Slover said.

Junior returnee Sarah Schaffer, a second-team all-league selection last year, will be another team captain.

“She has been nursing a strained quadricep, but is expected to be a leader on the defensive line, along with fellow junior Madison Bickel,” Slover said.

Sophomore returnees Raney Roche and Rachel Josephson are also back on defense.

“They started last year in the back and contributed greatly to having a successful season and are expected to do the same again,” Slover said.

Freshman Melinda Myers will also play on defense.

Tigard looks to have a wealth of talent at goalkeeper.

“The most unique situation this season will be the fact that the program has four outstanding goalkeepers,” Slover said.

Junior Zoey Dahme earned the starting goalie spot two years ago as a freshman. She’s back this year after missing most of her sophomore season due to a broken hand.

Sophomore Larysa Cleaver stepped in at goalie last year and, as a freshman, she garnered second-team all-league honors.

“So now we have to very good varsity keepers,” Slover said.

The Tigard coach added that the Tigard junior varsity team also has a pair of talented goalies in Makeena McClellan and Lexie Sawin.

In the midfield, Tigard returns Cincotta, Graham, Franz, sophomore Ellie Freeman and sophomore Anna Crosswhite. Sophomore newcomer Madelynn Kutcher will add depth to the midfield.

At forward, Tigard has Smart, sophomore Natalie Bryant, senior LizBeth Flores, junior Rachel Simmons, junior Faithe Wantland and sophomore Taylor Bryant. Freshman Jorday Lockrem will also see action at forward.

As for the Pacific Conference this season, Slover sees a close, and spirited, race ahead for the top spots in the league.

“It will be an exciting year for the Pacific Conference,” he said. “This will be the most competitive season for this league. Forest Grove was loaded with freshmen last year, and now they are adding a girl with national team experience from Mexico. Tualatin is always loaded with too much talent in the barn, and Newberg beat Tualatin last year, only to have a technicality disallow the win. The Newberg-Tigard game was very close. I think a school will win it this year by a point.”

Tigard will open its 2013 season tonight (Thursday) when it plays at Gresham in a non-league game starting at 7 p.m. On Tuesday, the Tigers will be home to face Clackamas in a 7 p.m. non-league contest.




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