La Grande picked up a much-needed win to get back on track ahead of Saturday’s Greater Oregon League showdown against Ontario.
Simon Maille scored two first-half goals, four other players found the back of the net, and the Tigers rebounded from last week’s loss to McLoughlin with a 6-2 win over The Dalles Thursday at La Grande Middle School.
“We had a great week of practice,” head coach Wade Wright said. “We really worked on some things we needed to after that game Saturday. The boys, they don’t like losing, but we can’t afford to dwell on it. They know we got other games to play and other games to win.”
Callum Ebel added a first-half goal, while Nick Tsiatsos, Cristian Miramontes and Michael Ebel all scored in the second half.
All told, La Grande outshot the Riverhawks 19-2, and executed what Wright said the team had focused on in practice during the week.
“I wanted to work on a little bit more aggressive play and work on playing the dangerous balls when they were available to us,” he said.
But the Tigers didn’t put the game away until about the midway point of the second half.
La Grande went into the break up just 3-2 after Alberto Gallegos’ second goal for The Dalles. The sophomore hit a frozen rope on a free kick from about 35 yards out just seconds before the half ended, and the Riverhawks hung tight in the early stages of the second half.
That changed at about the 55-minute mark. Tsiatsos beat his defender down the right side of the field and put home a shot for a 4-2 lead, and Miramontes put the game well out of reach with a goal of his own about 10 minutes later. Michael Ebel added a goal off a corner kick late for the final margin.
“We put in a lot more work this week for practice, and I think we turned our energy around,” Ebel said. “It showed on the field. Huge win.”
The offenses stagnated during the first half until La Grande broke through about the midway point. Callum Ebel netted a goal, and Maille followed with a shot just about 30 seconds later for a quick 2-0 lead.
Gallegos’ first goal off a corner kick pulled the Riverhawks within 2-1 before Maille scored again thanks to some fancy work. The senior corralled the ball near the top of the box then outmaneuvered a couple of defenders only to find there wasn’t a shot. He waited, then again broke free after a pair of defenders closed in and fired a shot into the top of the goal for a 3-1 lead.
“I’m not really sure what was going on,” he said of the goal. “I tried to get a shot off. There were people in front of me and (then) I decided to go for it. I honestly thought I missed.”
Maille’s footwork may have dazzled the crowd, but didn’t surprise his teammates or coach.
“Simon’s kind of known for that,” Wright said. “You give Simon the ball in there, and he is so good in close. He can be so tricky. We’d like for him to shoot before he has to (out)dribble five guys, but you saw his ability to work in tight spaces.”
The Tigers (5-3-0 overall) host Ontario in a crucial GOL match Saturday. Both teams enter 1-1-0 in GOL play and need a win to stay close to league-leading Mac-Hi.
“It’s for sure a must win. But I think with this momentum, if we go to practice hard (Friday), we’ll be fine,” Michael Ebel said.
LHS girls move to 5-0-0
Three different players scored in the first half, and the La Grande defense posted its third straight shutout in a 3-0 road win against The Dalles/Dufur Thursday.
Alaina Carson, Lexee Gomes and Kara Gooderham all scored in the first half for La Grande, which put up 14 shots after shaking off a slow start.
“It took a while to get our feet under us after the three hour trip,” head coach Kristen Rice said. “They played really well once they got that all figured out.”
Faith Akers had three saves in goal for La Grande, and Irelyn Miles saved a goal by making a play on a ball that Akers couldn’t get to after a collision with a player.
The Tigers (5-0-0 overall) host Ontario for first place in the Greater Oregon League Saturday. The contest puts Ontario’s offense, which has scored 50 goals in eight games for a 6.25 goal-per-game average, against a
La Grande defense that has allowed just one goal, a 0.2 per-game average.