Grizzlies blank Tigard, look ahead
The No. 5-ranked McMinnville boys soccer team roared to a 4-0 victory Tuesday vs. Tigard at Wortman Stadium.
It just took the Grizzlies a few minutes to get into the match.
McMinnville (8-1-1, 3-0) started the match seemingly lackadaisical, which led to the Tigers (1-8-1, 1-1-1) sneaking through Mac’s defense and getting a quick penalty kick two minutes into the match. Tigard junior Sean McManamon was fouled deep in the goalie’s box, and he lined up for a kick opposite Grizzlies goalkeeper Miguel Perez-Flores.
McManamon struck the ball solidly, but Perez-Flores made a diving stop. It was the energizing moment the Grizzlies needed.
“For Miguel to block that, it gave us life,” Mac coach Jeff Autencio said. “It was a second chance. Guys were saying, ‘Wake up, we’re in the match now.’ It was a great wake up call for us to not get burned by it and a great save by Miguel.”
Autencio warned his players after the match that starting slow can have devastating consequences if they never kick it into gear.
“In those 15 minutes of flat, you can give up a goal or two and you’re in trouble,” Autencio said. “Or you give them confidence and now you’re in a dog fight all night.”
The Grizzlies have four matches left in the regular season. Autencio said the message is there cannot be any more slow starts or it will cost them dearly.
“Every single night now, it just gets tougher and tougher,” he said.
Mac found the back of the net in the 26th minute. Javier Anguiano had a breakaway but was stopped at the top of the box by Tigard’s goalkeeper in a close collision. The head official blew his whistle immediately, giving the goalie an extremely quick red card because he was just outside of the box when he made the save with his hands.
The call enraged Tigard coach Tracy Hasson, who said one of those magic words that also earned him a red card. After the dust settled, Jose Pelayo stepped up and buried the penalty kick, giving Mac a 1-0 lead.
The score remained close for most of the first half until the Grizzlies capitalized on a key defensive save by Perez-Flores in the final minute. He made a diving stop and pushed the ball out to a Mac defender, who made a quick pass up the left sideline to Martin Cortes. The counterattack caught the Tigers off guard, and the Grizzlies sped off. Senior Nick Autencio streaked down the middle of the field wide open, and Cortes hit him. Autencio had an easy 2-on-1, beat the Tigard defender and scored past the goalkeeper.
“Counterattacks are tough because we’re fast,” Jeff Autencio said. “That’s where our defense saved a goal and then we’re off to the races.”
Mac poured it on early in the second half. In the 49th minute, Nick Autencio passed across the box to Pelayo, who scored the easy goal. A minute later, Anguiano scored after Tigard’s goalie made a save.
“Somewhere along the line,” Jeff Autencio said, “we pick it up.”
The Grizzlies are undefeated in conference and tied with No. 10-ranked Hillsboro (7-2-1) at 3-0. Mac plays at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Hillsboro, a showdown that will go a long way to determine the conference championship. The Grizzlies win and they’re in control.
“They’re a tough opponent for us,” Autencio said. “It’s never an easy place to play. It’s on grass, on a smaller field. It doesn’t play into our strengths.”
The Grizzlies play mainly on turf fields, which Autencio said changes certain aspects of the match. To prepare, the Grizzlies will practice a couple of days at Baker Field on the grass.
“Not that it should matter,” he said, “but there’s a definite difference.”
Mac struggled vs. the Spartans last season. It lost 3-2 at Hillsboro and then, in the second-to-last game of the regular season, tied 0-0 at Wortman Stadium.
It gets back to Autencio’s message about being prepared every match. The Grizzlies will get each team’s best shot, and the Spartans will be trying just as hard to take control of the conference. There’s little question, Autencio said, that Monday is the next biggest match of the season.
“We’re 3-0 and playing the next best team in our league,” he said.
“If you don’t get up for that, I don’t know what to tell you.”