Down 1-0 in its Greater Oregon League opener to rival Baker, the La Grande girls soccer team quickly responded for the equalizer, then came through with the clutch difference-making goal.

Caiya Chandler scored the game-winning goal midway through the second half off a corner kick from Kara Gooderham, and the Tigers survived a scare from the Bulldogs for a 2-1 victory Saturday afternoon at La Grande Middle School.

“That was a great game,” LHS head coach Kristen Rice said. “Kind of nervous in the first half with how hard Baker came out and played against us. I’m glad we were able to rebound in the second half. We settled down. We were able to play more of our game, and the outcome worked in our favor.”

Alaina Carson added a goal for La Grande, scoring just two minutes after Baker’s Josie Ash had given her team a second-half lead.

“Once they scored on us, it was, ‘OK, they’re here to play,’” Rice said. “We were able to step back up and play our game. (We) came out in the second half and played fantastic.”

The offensive outburst was a stark contrast to a first half of action that was a physical, defensive struggle that saw both teams manage few scoring chances. Those chances that did arise either went wide or high — including a shot by Baker early in the first half that clanged off the crossbar — or were turned away by La Grande goalkeeper Faith Akers or Baker keeper Emily Black.

That changed early in the second half. Ash hit a high arching shot into the top right corner just out of the reach of Akers for the lead.

Carson quickly put in the tying goal from the right side of the box two minutes later before Chandler put home her goal for the win.

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Chandler said. “I always try to do that on corners and make it work. It was a very good ball (from Gooderham).”

The Tigers (2-0 overall, 1-0 GOL) return to the pitch Tuesday against Umatilla.

LHS boys bury Baker

La Grande struck early and often to put away Baker for a win in its Greater Oregon League opener.

Adam Endress and Cristian Miramontes both recorded hat tricks, Michael Ebel had three assists, and the Tigers battered the Bulldogs, 6-1, Saturday.

“I thought it went pretty well. We controlled the majority of the game. We went in a little bit of a different formation. We wanted to give this new look a try,” head coach Wade Wright said.

The Tigers seized command midway through the first half. Endress put home a rebound off a missed shot for a 1-0 lead about 15 minutes into the game. He did the same about 10 minutes later when a shot was saved by Baker keeper Eli Lien but bounced to a charging Endress, who put the follow-up in for a two-goal lead. Miramontes added the Tigers’ third goal just three minutes later for a 3-0 lead at the break.

The score could have been much worse for the Bulldogs, but Lien made a couple of stellar saves on shots taken from point-blank range.

Jamisun Rigueiro got the Bulldogs on the board early in the second half, but La Grande put any comeback hopes from Baker to rest quickly. Miramontes scored on a penalty kick and Endress scored two minutes later for a 5-1 lead midway through the second half. Miramontes added his third goal with about 15 minutes to play for the final margin.

The Tigers battered Baker to the tune of 25 shot attempts and, save for a few Baker possessions, were in control most of the afternoon.

La Grande (3-2 overall, 1-0 GOL) travels to Umatilla Tuesday.