The La Grande girls soccer team is starting to get into a rhythm after
seeing two games recently canceled due to persistent smoke from regional wildfires.

The momentum started with Saturday’s win against Baker, and continued Tuesday against Umatilla.

Alaina Carson netted her second hat trick of the season, Lara Insko also scored and Faith Akers had four saves as the Tigers topped the Vikings, 4-0, at La Grande Middle School.

“Ever since we (could) get back out here and have more games we’ve been playing better,” Akers said.

It was the Tigers’ second game in four days after not having a contest for more than two weeks. Carson said getting back out on the pitch in actual contests is allowing the team to get the “kinks” out.

“I think it was nice that we had this game so close to the last one,” she said. “We figured out last game what we needed to work on.”

Carson put La Grande on the board early. The junior took a pass, dribbled toward the middle of the field and
connected on a shot from the top of the box for a 1-0 lead.

“They came right out. We got a goal within the first six minutes,” head coach Kristen Rice said. “That’s always big.”

Carson made it 2-0 in the 23rd minute when she took a nice feed from Liz Babcock right in front of the goal and put it in the net. She completed the hat trick in the 49th minute by weaving through a couple defenders before
firing a shot for the 3-0 lead.

“It’s just who she is,” Rice said of what makes Carson dangerous with the ball. “She’s quick. She can get through the defenders and get the goals that are needed.”

The lead was more than enough for the Tigers defense, which limited the amount of time Umatilla was able to possess the ball. The handful of times the Vikings were able to threaten were denied by the back line or by Akers.

“It’s just more of a communication thing,” Akers said of the defensive strength. “We work really well together.”

Rice commended both Akers and the defense for their play Tuesday.

“Faith did a great job,” the coach said. “She stepped up. We were able to play the ball to her feet so we could swing the ball around. The defense did a great job of shutting them down and playing strong. They play great every game. They keep us together.”

Insko added her first goal of the season in the 32nd minute for the final margin.

“We were working together to get good shots and set up each other,” Carson said. “We had a lot of shots that game.”

Indeed, the Tigers cranked out 29 shots on the afternoon, 14 of which were on goal.

“We work on shooting about every day,” Rice said. “It’s nice that we had so many, but hopefully we can (turn) those into more goals.”

The score might have been worse if it wasn’t for Umatilla keeper Maria Moreno, who had nine saves, including one on a shot late in the first half where Moreno leaped to punch away an attempt that would have been a definite goal otherwise.

“Their keeper did a fantastic job. She made some great saves,” Rice said.

La Grande (3-0-0 overall) travels to Milton-Freewater for a Greater Oregon League match against McLoughlin Saturday.

Tiger boys rout Umatilla on the road

Early on, the La Grande boys soccer team rarely missed.

It resulted in an easy blowout victory.

Adam Endress and Simon Maille both registered hat tricks, and La Grande scored on five of its first six shots on the way to a 9-0 blowout win at Umatilla Tuesday.

“The last two games I’ve tried out a new formation and moved around some positions. I think we found something that works for us,” head coach Wade Wright said. “Our passing accuracy and the extent to which we possess is just so much better than at the beginning of the year.”

Endress scored in the sixth and 19th minute, and Maille scored in the 10th and 11th minute for a 4-0 lead. Maille netted his hat trick in the 20th minute, and Callum Ebel scored late in the half for a 6-0 halftime lead.

Ebel scored his second goal in the 48th minute and Endress, who also had two assists, completed his hat trick a minute later. Makhail Tritchka scored in the 58th minute for the final margin.

Cristian Miramontes added two assists, and Christian Waugaman had two saves.

La Grande (4-2-0 overall) visits McLoughlin in a Greater Oregon League matchup Saturday.