LINCOLN CITY — Junior midfielder Diego Gomez scored twice, and after a sluggish start, the Taft High School boys soccer team displayed superior speed, some crisp passing and a stout backline to post a 4-0 non-league victory over Banks in the Tigers’ season-opener at home Saturday afternoon at sundrenched Voris Field.
For 3A/2A/1A-SD 2 Taft, handling an upper-division foe in the Braves from the 4A-1 Cowapa League in relatively dominant fashion only proved the Tigers worthy of their No. 8 ranking in the season’s first OSAA coaches poll. Senior midfielder Sam Cortes added a goal and an assist for Taft. After taking a 3-goal advantage into halftime, Tigers junior midfielder/forward Mario Cortes capped the scoring in the 44th minute.
After the match, sixth-year Taft head coach Ryan Ulicni said that as expected, his Tigers never lacked energy throughout the entire 80 minutes of play. However, what impressed Ulicni most was his squad’s skill in focusing that energy during its first match of the season.
“I think it was the ability they have to calm their energy and really play as a group,” Ulicni replied when asked what stood out about Taft’s performance. “In the first game, you’re always a little nervous to see how everything works out, but they pulled it together and scored some fantastic team goals.”
Likely due to Taft’s eagerness to begin the season in the win column, the Tigers started off playing tentatively, while Banks matched them on equal footing throughout the majority of the first 10 minutes of play. But after fighting through some early-contest jitters, Taft found its stride and asserted itself, controlling the run of play through the remainder of the match.
The floodgates opened at the midway point of the first half, when Sam Cortes beat Braves junior keeper Kristian Arcadia on the Tigers’ first shot on goal. A minute later, Gomez gave Taft a 2-goal advantage before netting his second about 10 minutes later.
Sam Cortes fed Mario Cortes for the final tally of the afternoon early in the second stanza, and the Braves failed to mount a serious scoring threat the remainder of the day. Banks managed just three shots on Taft freshman goalkeeper Joshua McCormick, all during the opening 40 minutes. In contrast, the Tigers peppered the Banks goal with 11 shots on target.
Ulicni said Taft’s swift and dangerous midfielders and forwards deserve credit for putting the ball into the back of the net, but he also championed a defense that kept McCormick from facing more than just a few challenges the entire match while preserving the shutout.
“You always love the goal-scorers, and they do work very, very hard, so we are very appreciative,” Ulicni said. “But our defense was fantastic today. Not much wrong with the defense today at all. We’ve got three seniors back there, very experienced, and they hold the line very well.”
The Tigers were scheduled on Tuesday to host another 4A-1 Cowapa League foe in Tillamook. For results of that contest, see Friday’s News-Times sports pages.
Banks 0 0 — 0
Taft 3 1 — 4
T — Sam Cortes. 20:00
T — Diego Gomez, 21:00
T — Gomez, 31:00
T — Mario Cortes (S. Cortes), 44:00
Shots on goal — Banks 3, Taft 11. Saves — Banks 7 (Kristian Arcadia 6, team 1, Ben Cost 0), Taft 3 (Joshua McCormick). Corner kicks — Banks 4, Taft 4. Fouls — Banks 3, Taft 5.
Newport/Eddyville Charter 8, Siuslaw 0
At Morrow Field, the Cubs fought off a steady drizzle Aug. 26 to post a convincing nonconference win in Newport.
The Cubs netted seven goals in the opening 40 minutes of play and held the Vikings without a single shot on goal the entire first half. The 4A-3-Oregon West Conference Cubs netted all seven of their first-half shots on goal against a Siuslaw program in just its second season of varsity play.
Newport (1-0-0) was slated on Tuesday evening to host another non-league foe in Seaside from the 4A-1 Cowapa League.
Siuslaw 0 0 — 0
Newport 7 1 — 8