The La Grande Tigers wasted little time taking control of their matchup against the Fruitland Grizzlies.
La Grande scored twice in the first three minutes, Callum Ebel finished with a hat trick, and the Tigers cruised to an 8-0 win over Fruitland Monday at Community Stadium for their third shutout win in four matches to start the season.
“I think we just outplayed them,” Ebel said. “Our passing was really nice. We found the slots and finished (the shots).”
Those shots came early and often for the Tigers. Ebel and Devin Ingram scored in the game’s first three minutes. Ebel scored again in the 18th and Levy Brembach found the net in the 32nd as La Grande raced to a 4-0 lead in a dominant first half. The Tigers held possession for about 85% of the half, took 18 shots while allowing Fruitland none, and barely let the Grizzlies see their half of the field. Fruitland didn’t get a possession in its attacking third of the field until late in the first half.
“That was one of our keys as well as trying to maintain possession and trying to keep them in their half (of the field),” LHS head coach Sid Rangel said. “I think we were able to complete that objective.”
The lopsided score also allowed the Tigers a chance to fine-tune and play with different formations as the game went along.
“The important thing from this match is we want to be sure we’re doing the small things right and continuing to gain confidence in our formations and our positions, (and) making sure we’re executing to the best of our ability,” Rangel said.
The coach added that he saw what he was hoping to out of the team,
especially in the second half.
“They’re giving it their best. I saw their effort,” he said. “I saw them connecting passes, and saw them try new things.
“We’ve been working more on the tactical side of things this week, and we decided to mix it up a little bit in terms of formation. The kids did great.”
Ingram added it was a good learning opportunity for the Tigers.
“We gained a better bond as a team going into the league games, which are more important in (OSAA) ranking and toward the playoffs,” he said. “We tried a new formation today. I think it worked out pretty well. We got some good passing (and) some good combinations.”
The crisp passing was a strong facet for LHS. The Tigers had excellent setup passes on each of their goals, but perhaps none better than on Ebel’s perfect through ball to Adam Remily for a second-half goal and a 6-0 lead in the 52nd minute.
“It was a really good build-up play,” Ebel said. “They played it to James (Thurman), he played me through, and then I saw Adam in the slot and he finished.”
Passing is emerging as one of La Grande’s strengths, particularly short, quick hitters.
“We work on it a lot in practice, those small passes,” Ingram said. “We learned playing against teams like Mac-Hi and Ontario (in the past) they do a lot of that, so we had to start doing some of that.”
Ebel scored his third goal in the match earlier in the half. Thurman and Tyler Leigh also scored for La Grande.
La Grande finished with 32 total shots and put 18 of them on goal. Fruitland, by contrast, registered only one in the second half, which missed the frame.
The Tigers (3-1-0 overall) travel to Pendleton Tuesday.
LHS girls fall on road
The La Grande Tigers were handed a rare regular-season loss, falling on the road to the Fruitland Grizzlies Monday, 5-4. It was LHS’s first loss in a regular-season contest since the 2016 season.
Starra Ullman led the Tigers with a pair of goals, scoring one in each half. Cecelia Aguilera and Lauran Rinker. Alexyss Chamberlain had 10 saves.
La Grande (1-1 overall) hosts Nyssa Thursday.