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The La Grande girls soccer team celebrates after defeating Klamath Union in a shootout Tuesday in the first round of the 4A state playoffs. CASEY KELLAS - The Observer
La Grande girls advance by defeating Klamath Union
The La Grande girls soccer team finally got their challenge.
And it may have been a bit more of a challenge than they hoped for.
The third-seeded Lady Tigers battled through 100 minutes of scoreless action before prevailing 2-1 in a shootout with sixth-seeded Klamath Union Tuesday in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.
“Amazing,” goal keeper Auslin McDaniel said of the win after blocking two shots in the shootout session.
“This is huge. It’s not the way we wanted it to go down, but we’ll take it,” coach Sam Brown said.
“We trained (penalty kicks) every night. We had a feeling it could go to a shootout.”
The game was a defensive struggle throughout, as both offenses seemed out of sync for the majority of the contest.
But both teams still had their chances.
The Pelicans put two shots on goal in the first two minutes to no avail.
A Haley White shot in the 17th minute rolled just wide left for La Grande.
A minute later the Lady Tigers had a shot ricochet off the cross bar.
The second half saw even less opportunities.
“I didn’t really make any adjustments,” Brown said. “I trusted our style of play and hoped it would carry us through.
“Our defense really stepped up.”
After regulation came to an end the teams went through two scoreless 10-minute overtime sessions that led to the shootout.
And that’s where the action picked up.
Alora Brown powered a shot into the back of the net to start things off for LHS. McDaniel blocked the first Klamath Union try by Bailey Pimentel.
White had a shot miss right before the Pelicans tied it up on a goal by Jackie Gardner.
After back-to-back misses by Kayla Rasmussen and Maura Tait, Allisa Welberg found the back of the net to put La Grande on top 2-1.
McDaniel came up with another block before Jasmine Smith had a shot blocked, setting up a do-or-die attempt by KU’s Beckie Wyse.
But Wyse’s shot went high right to seel the victory for the Lady Tigers and moving them on to the next round.
“I was the goalie for a shootout this summer and didn’t do too well,” McDaniel said.
“So before the shootout I was really nervous. But after it was over it was amazing.”
“Auslin was fantastic. She had a great game all around,” Brown said. “This is a huge momentum boost for us. Just getting those first-round jitters out of the way.”
With the victory the Lady Tigers will travel to play second-seeded Philomath. The Warriors defeated North Valley 7-0 Tuesday.
Philmoth ended the regular season ranked No. 4 by the OSAA, while La Grande was No. 5. The Warriors and Lady Tigers had similar seasons this year by blowing teams out.
Philomath did lose three games, while La Grande lost just one. But both teams have a high-scoring attack. PHS scored 63 goals this year, while LHS put in 67.
“We just have to play as one,” McDaniel said of what it will take for the Lady Tigers to keep advancing.
Other 4A winners: Scappoose defeated Brookings-Harbor 13-0; Mazama beat North Marion 5-0; Molalla edged Sisters 2-0; North Bend beat Hidden Valley 1-0; Gladstone bounced Cottage Grove 6-0.