Tualatin girls’ soccer embraces adversity before playoffs

Junior midfielder MacKenzie Mathis (7) sets up to launch a kick in Tualatin’s Oct. 25, 2-0 defeat to Oregon City. The game brought Tualatin to a 7-3-4 season record before the first round of playoffs. Henry Kaus/Tualatin Life
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Sometimes, it just comes down to who wants it more – and for Tualatin girls’ soccer, it just wasn’t their night.

Tualatin held their annual senior night in their last home game of the regular season. Of Tualatin’s roster of 20 this year, Cate Van Valin (1), Sophia Aldinger (18), Stella Pfeiffer (19), Paige Olson (15) and Brook Burke (17) make up the senior class. Henry Kaus/Tualatin Life

To finish out Three Rivers League (TRL) play for the fall 2021 season, the Timberwolves fell Oct. 25 to the visiting Oregon City Pioneers 2-0 in their third loss of the season.

“They wanted it more than us tonight, it came down to that,” Tualatin junior captain Avery Porter told Tualatin Life. “They were winning more 50/50s, they were beating us to a lot of balls and winning a lot of tackles. We need to improve on that on our part, but they just outplayed us tonight. I hope we see them again later and get some revenge.”

There were several mental mistakes, but unfortunate player sickness struck the team on a night meant to be celebratory.

“Communication was definitely lacking tonight. It’s been something we’ve been working on all season,” Porter said. “We were missing Maya (Loudd) too. She does a lot for us in there, so we all had to pick up a few more tasks to make up for her being gone. We were tired and then the communication dropped and we kind of fell apart with that because we weren’t playing as a team, we were playing as individuals.”

Head Coach Kalé Dwight added, “I think part of it is senior night. Senior night always gets in everyone’s head. But part of it was they all knew Maya wasn’t here. I mean, we’re missing our second-best player. She wanted to come and at least cheer us on, but she was pretty sick.”

These hiccups became abundantly clear early in the game. In the eighth minute, Oregon City midfielder Bree McCullough passed over to Olivia Bariao-Arce. She knocked a clear-cut 20-yard kick to the left side of the Tualatin goal just out of reach of goalkeeper Cate Van Valin after playing most of the period in Tualatin territory.

This remained the only score of the half, but the Wolves still had a taste of a score.

Coming off a vertically sent free ball, Brooke Burke nudged an attempt just over frame at the first half’s end. Later, Lauren Ayer drove down the left sideline, passed to Burke in the center who delivered behind to MacKenzie Mathis on the 25-yard line where she blasted over the crossbar once again. This all combined with three other kicks to the keeper.

But, to round out the second half, Oregon City Amelia Spellman bumped a kick into the upper right-hand pocket to win 2-0 and drop Tualatin to rank 10th overall and 3rd in the TRL.

Despite the loss to the number six team in the 6A-statewide division, the Wolves have maneuvered a laborious fall schedule, all the while only allowing 10 goals through 14 games. But, in contrast, they only managed to score 16.

“Going into this game we had the third best defense in the state of Oregon,” Dwight said. “Now it’s probably dropped to fifth. But regardless of how good our defense is, we can’t go to PKs on every single playoff game, we need to start scoring too. We had the third best defense in the state, but 44th best offense.”

Heading into playoffs, the Wolves secured a 7-3-4 overall record (4-1-2 TRL), with losses to 6A first seed Jesuit and 5A first seed Wilsonville. Meanwhile, they settled for a tie against second seed Lake Owego. With the experience, they hope to make quite a dent in this year’s bracket.

“We know that we can compete with Lake Oswego, even with Jesuit,” Porter said. “So, we just really want to play our best every game and make it as far as we can and hopefully – I want to make it to the state championship obviously, but we’ll see how far we can go.”

“I’d love the final game,” Dwight said. “Realistically I think our team – I think our defense can get us to the semi-finals, but we still need to learn how to score. That’s where our problem is right now, we are extremely unbalanced.”

Tualatin started their playoff journey on Oct. 30, with junior defender/midfielder Loudd returning to the field against Westview, the Wolves eager to put this loss in the past.

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