BOYS LOSE HEARTBREAKER TO SEASIDE, END SEASON 12-2
By Raenelle Kwock
Observer Staff Writer
Last season the La Grande boys soccer team missed the state playoffs.
This season, the Tigers wound up District 7 champions and had a first-round bye heading into Tuesday's second-round state playoff against Seaside.
Seaside defeated the Tigers 2-1 in double overtime in chilly weather at the La Grande Middle School field.
"I'm really proud of them," La Grande coach Jessy Watson said. "They had a season where everybody said they wouldn't have."
Watson said the Tigers are one of the hardest working teams with the most heart.
"I'm very proud of them," he said. "I want everybody to know that. They played a tough game today."
A tough call near the end of the second half did not go the Tigers' way.
La Grande's Jared Blakely booted the ball past Seaside goalie Jared Cederstrom for what appeared to be a goal.
"What (the referees) said initially when we all thought it was a goal, they said it was not a goal and the foul was called after the keeper was wrestling with the ball," Watson said. "One of my players slid into the ball and when he slid, he slid with his cleat up and that's why they called a foul."
He said the first time when Cederstrom was fumbling with the ball, it was a goal but the linesman was not watching.
"I feel like we got robbed in that sense," Watson said.
The Gulls and Tigers were deadlocked at 1-1 before that play.
Blakely scored La Grande's only goal at the 50-minute mark with a powerful shot that sailed high into the net.
Watson said it was the second time this season Blakely got a goal like that.
Five minutes after Blakely's goal, the Gulls' Ben Dueber slipped the ball past Tiger goalie Josef Mielke to tie the game at 1-1.
After the tough Tiger call toward the end of the second half, the game went into overtime with two 10-minute halves.
No team scored in the first overtime.
In the second overtime period, the Gulls' Nathan Pogue dribbled past several Tiger defenders and scored halfway into the period.
Watson said the Tigers worked hard all season and with teamwork accomplished a lot.
"They played hard today," the coach said. "They played the best they could play. They gave it everything they had.
"I have a lot of respect for these young men."
The Tigers finish the season 12-2 overall.
The Tigers will graduate District 7 co-player of the year Aaron Nebeker, first-teamers Trae Perry and Manuel Arceo, second-teamers Joe Hibbert and Blakely, honorable mention James Selman and Conner Ross.
Watson said Nebeker is "without a doubt the best defender in the state."
He said Arceo, Hibbert and Perry played hard in their final game.