LHS plans to enjoy home field perks
Tigers try to advance past quarterfinals for second straight season on the pitch
This Saturday, it’s all about making a statement for Haley White and the rest of the La Grande girls soccer team.
The Tigers are in the quarterfinals for the second straight season. Last year, a match against Philomath didn’t go as planned, a 4-0 loss.
“Mentally, we are so ready for this game,” White said. “All year our goal has been to make a statement to the whole state about what we can do. Against Junction City, we really wanted to do that, and it continues to grow each game. We really want to win.”
This year, La Grande will battle with Brookings-Harbor.
The Bruins knocked off Henley 2-1, grabbing the win on penalty kicks, 6-5.
“We know that they’re going to be a tough match,” goalkeeper Auslin McDaniel-Perrin said. “It’s going to get tougher each game. Junction City was a lot like Pendleton, the toughest match we’ve had so far this season.”
Brookings-Harbor went 11-1-2 overall this season, and 8-1-1 in the Far West League. The Bruins have scored 96 goals, while only allowing six. They finished the season ranked No. 9 in the OSAA standings. The lone loss this season came against North Bend/Oregon Coast Technology, 2-1.
La Grande cruised past Junction City 6-1, but faced a little bit more of a test in the opening round than they have all season.
“They did some things that we didn’t see much of this season, and they played pretty physical,” White said. “They didn’t give up either. Junction City played hard in the second half. We’re all fighting for the same goal, to not lose.”
Just like Junction City, Brookings-Harbor will need to deal with travel. It’s a 681 mile trip from Brookings to La Grande.
“It’s great to be able to play in front of our home crowd,” White said. “It helps when the weather is cold to hear the fans cheering for you. I can’t imagine being on the bus for that long. They also didn’t have the right clothes for the temperature. It was really cold, and (Junction City) was just wearing shorts and the shirts like it was a warm day.”
The home field advantages don’t end there.
While snow flurries aren’t in the forecast like they were against Junction City, the Bruins will have to deal with a severe change in elevation.
Brookings is 129 feet above sea level. La Grande is 2,785 feet above sea level.
“We’ll take whatever advantages we can get,” White said. “Hopefully they won’t be able to keep up with us when we’re running around the field. ”
The Tigers enter the match against Brookings-Harbor 14-0-0. La Grande has scored 95 goals this season and allowed three.
McDainel-Perrin knows the defense will need to play even better this week.
“It’s tough to not see a lot of pressure in our end, and then try to prepare for game-speed situations,” McDaniel-Perrin said. “We have the boys coach (Jessy Watson) helping us out, which helps. He’s working with the goalies to try and get us ready.
We’ve adjusted the game plan to, and we’re sticking with it against Brookings-Harbor. We want to keep the ball out of our backfield. That will help take some of that pressure off myself and the defense.”
The Tigers have also taken to the indoors to help simulate what they will see in the cooler, wetter weather.
“We’ve practiced in the gym a little bit,” White said. “It’s nice because it’s warm in there. But, the ball also moves a lot quicker on the gym floor. It’s great to be able to see that and stay warm at the same time.
“We just hope that people will come out no matter what the weather is like and support us. We enjoy it when the sideline is packed with people.”