LINCOLN CITY — Taft High School head boys soccer coach Ryan Ulicni said earlier this season that the Tigers’ pre-league schedule, mostly featuring competition from a higher classification, was intended to toughen up his squad in preparation for the 3A/2A/1A-SD 2 campaign. That strategy already appears to be paying dividends.
After a building a 2-0 advantage they took into halftime Monday evening, the Taft surrendered a pair of goals to Yamhill-Carlton before junior midfielder Mario Cortes netted a penalty kick in the waning moments to give Taft a 3-2 victory in a non-league 3A match at Voris Field.
With the victory, in just its second match this season against a school not in 4A, Taft snapped a three-match winless streak (two losses and a draw) and improved to 3-2-1 on the season. It was also the second straight match in which Ulicni praised Taft’s effort, coming off the heels of a scoreless tie last Thursday at 4A Seaside.
“We played a fantastic game against Yamhill-Carlton tonight,” Ulicni wrote in his post-match media report. “They always bring a competitive game.”
Senior forward and team captain Samuel Vasquez-Reyez scored twice in the first half for Taft, providing a seemingly comfortable advantage heading into the final 40 minutes of play.
“Yamhill-Carlton came out in the second half determined and got back two goals,” Ulicni wrote. “We never gave up and fought right until the end when our aggressiveness earned us a penalty kick in the dying minutes.”
Ulicni said one of the match’s highlights came after play became aggressive in the second half, resulting in several player injuries. Then, Ulicni said captains from both teams met at midfield and agreed to urge their respective sides to maintain composure to ensure the remainder of the match was played cleanly.
“That is what you want to see whether you are a coach, ref, parent or fan,” Ulicni wrote. The teams meet again Oct. 14 at Yamhill-Carlton in a match that counts toward the league standings.
Taft was slated Wednesday to host Delphian at Voris Field in its final tune-up prior to league play. Taft opens 3A/2A/1A-SD 2 action with a 3 p.m. Oct. 1 home match against Gervais.
Yamhill-Carlton 0 2 — 2
Taft 2 1 — 3
Yamhill-Carlton 1, Taft 0
At Lincoln City, a first-half goal lifted Yamhill-Carlton to the Monday afternoon 3A/2A/1A-SD 2 victory at Voris Field.
Details from the match were not reported to the media prior to Wednesday morning’s deadline.
Taft, 0-4 in league and overall, was scheduled to play a league match Thursday match at No. 7 Dayton before returning Oct. 4 to Voris Field for a 4:15 p.m. league contest with Amity/Western Christian.
Yamhill-Carlton 1 0 — 1
Taft 0 0 — 0