The Taft 7-12 boys soccer team enjoyed a perfect week on the field last week while the girls team battled a county rival on Senior Night.
The Tiger boys got the week started on March 8 with a home game against a talented East Linn Christian squad. The more experienced Taft Tigers flexed their muscles offensively throughout the night scoring five goals from five different players. Scoring a goal each was Mario Frias Cortes, Sammy Vasquez, William Calderon, Jose Flores and Marco Perez.
“We gained a lead and kept it through halftime,” head coach Ryan Ulicni said. “Then, even with all of the substitutions, we managed to keep them scoreless in the second half. This was the definition of a team win.”
Taft ended with a 5-1 victory over the visiting eagles. Ulicni credits a lot of the complete team win not only to the players, but the coaching staff as well.
“I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of this team and to receive so much support,” Ulicni said. “A huge shout out to my coaches, Daniel Haehl our goalie specialist and Dayton Mays or defensive expert. Without their knowledge and trust from the team we would not be as successful.”
The boys kept the momentum rolling on March 10 when they hosted the Newport Cubs for a rematch on Senior Night. After Taft outlasted Newport on March 3 for a 4-3, victory, the visiting Cubs came out with a chip on their shoulder last Wednesday.
“We fell behind, just about halfway through the first half,” Ulicni said. “We managed to rally back quickly and gained the lead at the break.”
After honoring seniors William Calderon, Alex De Valle, Ivan Cortes, Jose Flores, Kevin Acosta, Mauricio Rivas and Ethan Thomas at halftime, the Tigers took complete control of the game in the second half.
“The ability of these guys to listen to each other and fix the problem out on the field just makes me more proud to be a part of this team,” Ulicni said.
With three goals from Calderon and two from Vasquez, Taft earned a 5-3 victory and a season sweep of Newport. The Tigers will enjoy a break before their next game on March 19 at Yamhill-Carlton.
The Taft 7-12 girls soccer squad had their second chance to take on the 4A Newport Cubs on March 10 after dropping the previous game 2-1 on March 3.
The Lady Tigers celebrated seniors Avery Nightengale and Jada Ellis as apart of their Senior Night. And after a scoreless first half for the Taft, Nightengale was fouled in the box and converted on a penalty kick to get the Tigers on the board.
“Five of our athletes had competed earlier in a cross country event so tired legs showed in second half,” head coach Joey Arce-Torres said. “We struggled in controlling the ball control Newport team and they found two more successful goals behind our tired legs.”
The game ended in a 3-1 tilt in favor of the visiting Cubs. However, Arce-Torres was pleased with the effort of his players including Olivia Coulter and Sayge Ulrich, who played heavy minutes.
“So incredibly blessed to have a healthy group of athletes who show up to compete every week, rain, shine or bitter cold,” Arce-Torres said.
The Lady Tigers will get one more crack at Newport this week when they travel south for a game on March 17.