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The Observer Paper 12/17/14

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Tigers cap season with a road win

BAKER CITY — All the La Grande boys soccer team can do now is sit and wait. 

The Tigers took care of business on their end, defeating Baker City 3-0 Tuesday to close out the season with back-to-back wins in the Greater Oregon League. 

La Grande finished the season winning four of its last five games.

“We knew the team was capable of doing this,” co-head coach Wade Wright said. “It just took us a little while to get there.

“We played two very good halves of soccer today. I think something clicked against Ontario last week.”

Blaine Kruetz put La Grande on the board in the first half with a goal. 

Ben Johnson got in to the scoring column next, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

“We sat down with the boys during practice this week and told them that we still have a shot (at the playoffs),” Wright said. But, we need to come out and win this game. They stepped up to the pressure.”

Kruetz capped the scoring with his second goal of the game.

While the offense stole the show, the defense turned in a great effort, according to Wright.

“We switched up the defense a few weeks ago to play a 4-4-2,” Wright said. “We wanted to pack it in a little more on the defensive end. The boys responded well to that. Other teams weren’t getting real good looks when they were able to get off a shot at the net.”

The win moved La Grande into second place in the GOL, for now, at 3-3-0. The Tigers are 4-7-0 overall.

Ontario still has two league games left on the schedule this season, against Mac-Hi and Baker.

“Obviously we’ll be rooting for Ontario to lose,” Wright said. “We’re hoping that there are a few more games left in our season.” 

La Grande, currently 28th in the OSAA state rankings, is too far down the list to earn an at-large bid to the state playoff like it did last season.

The Tigers’ only chance is to finish second in the GOL. 

Mac-Hi defeated Ontario 1-0 in the only match this season Oct. 12. Ontario defeated the Bulldogs 8-0 Sept. 12.

If La Grande and Ontario finish tied for the third place, the toe-breakers will come in to effect. 

Wright said the goals scored against will determine who moves on in case of a tie.

“We’re hoping it doesn’t come down to a tie breaker,” Wright said. “But if it does, we need Mac-Hi and Baker to find the net against Ontario.”

La Grande has allowed 29 goals this season, while Ontario has allowed 16 goals. 

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