October 14, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

If you cant beat them, tie them.

Unfortunately, this might be the new battle cry for La Grandes opponents in the Eastern Oregon League.

For the second time in four games, the Tiger girls soccer team was forced into a scoreless tie. This time it was when La Grande hosted Madras at the middle school field.

Everybody (from Madras) was in or around the box, La Grande coach Alex Steenstra said. It gave us little room to operate and worked to (Madras) advantage.

The White Buffaloes didnt even try to mount an offensive attack. Instead, they were content to keep their nine players within 18 yards of their goal. The only times La Grande goalie Amber Rasmussen even touched the ball was when it was kicked to her by her teammates on drop passes.

The result was a second league tie in three division games. The Dalles tried the same tactic on Oct. 2, which resulted in another 0-0 tie. La Grande had come away from Madras with a 7-0 win on Oct. 6.

The shutout was La Grandes ninth straight. The Tigers have allowed only two goals all year and improved to 7-1-2 overall and 5-0-2 in league play.

Even though La Grande didnt score for only the second time this year, Steenstra was impressed with his teams composure.

We didnt panic, he said. We dominated and our defense dominated.

This is a negative brand of soccer and I dont like to play it. Its boring to the fans. Madras was conceding they cant score.

La Grande had two shots deflected off the crossbar, and Madras had several saves by its goalie.

The key to breaking a packed defense like the one Madras and The Dalles have used is simply to score. Then the other team has to try and score to keep the game from being a loss.

If we score once, the game is over, Steenstra said. We need to work on taking shots from 19 to 20 yards out. We also need to improve on our cross passes a little bit. In that kind of defense, if you have a bad touch (pass), it will end up going to the defender.

La Grande travels to Milton-Freewater Monday where it will play McLoughlin.