November 11, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

EUGENE The La Grande Tigers ran into a style of play Saturday they werent used to.

The last two years we havent seen as aggressive of play as we saw Saturday, La Grande coach Alex Steenstra said after the Tigers were eliminated from the Class 3A/2A/1A girls soccer playoffs quarterfinals with a 3-0 loss to Marist.

One Marist player was ejected after a red card. Tigers Nicole Lewis and Shalece Hibbert left the game for a time because of injuries.

Marist went all out. Not that my girls didnt; we just werent used to that physical play.

The game was also played on a smaller than usual field, and that forced the teams to play more at midfield and lessened the scoring opportunities.

Marist got its first goal, from Kristen Rice, 30 minutes into the first half. Rice was later ejected for slide tackling.

La Grande (12-2-2) responded by changing its tactics and becoming more aggressive on offense to generate more scoring opportunities.

Marist had not been scored on all year, and we were hoping that if we could score on them we could put a doubt in their mind, Steenstra said.

Marist (14-1-1) answered with a second goal five minutes into the second half and another goal with 10 minutes to play.

Marist outshot La Grande 10-4.

La Grande goalkeeper Amber Rasmussen kept her team in the game, Steenstra said.

Amber intercepted a lot of crosses. She made some great saves, he said.

La Grande, the two-time Eastern Oregon League champions, advanced to the quarterfinals for the second year. Last year, the Tigers beat Valley Catholic 2-1 in the quarterfinals but lost 2-1 to eventual champion Catlin Gabel in the semifinals in La Grande.

Steenstra thinks Marist has a good shot of reaching the championship game this year.

If you lose to the champions, theres nothing to be ashamed of, he said.