It's no secret that the Taft 7-12 boys soccer team knows how to score goals. In fact, coming into Wednesday's first round State Playoff matchup with Central Linn the Tigers had one of the highest goal totals in all of the state.
Nobody was expecting a double-digit beatdown of the Cobras, but that's just what the Tigers handed out, all while sending a message to the rest of the state.
The State Playoffs pits the best teams against each other and after going undefeated in the regular season, Taft was given the No. 4 spot in the field of 16 teams. If the 11-0 victory over Central Linn is any indication, it's fair to say that the Tigers wanted to prove they weren't to be messed with.
"There is kind of a chip (on our shoulder)," head coach Ryan Ulicni said. "It becomes a mathematical nightmare as the season progresses. But when you are sitting with some of the top teams in your Division it is nice to recognize you are one of the top ones too. I would not underestimate anyone and I would hope they don't with us."
Message heard loud and clear.
Taft opened up Wednesday's game with a goal from senior captain Edson Fuentes, who is fresh off being named Player of the Year for Taft's district. After a great save off a Central Linn shot from goalie Sam Cortes, Taft's offense had two goals by Sammy Vasquez, one by William Calderon and a miraculous goal from Ivan Cortes, the Tigers went ahead 5-0 at halftime.
The second half proved to be more of the same, more Taft goals and smothering defense. Vasquez added another goal to give him three on the night, Calderon netted a second and Alex Del Valle also scored two. Mauricio Rivas and Diego Gomez also scored to give Taft the 11-0 victory, the largest margin of victory of any first round game in the State.
The win puts Taft in a position to host a second round game against Riverdale this coming Saturday, Nov. 9 at 5 p.m. Riverdale eliminated the Tigers from the quarterfinals of the 2017 State Playoffs and is coming off a 1-0 victory in the first round.