Second-place for Tornado after 'magical season'
HILLSBORO — The North Medford girls soccer team fought to the final whistle, but couldn’t write a fairytale ending to its storybook 2014 season after suffering a 2-0 loss to Tualatin in the Class 6A championship game Saturday night.
Corinne Togiai scored a pair of second-half goals for the top-seeded Timberwolves at Hillsboro Stadium.
The reigning champs put a shot wide into the side netting just 30 seconds after kickoff and maintained pressure in front of the Black Tornado goal through most of the first half.
Tualatin put together a frantic five-minute flurry in the middle stages of the half, starting when Togiai played a ball into the box and teammate Kyla Hackelman found open space. But just as she fired, North Medford’s Sarah Thomas stepped in front to absorb the shot with her shin guard.
A few minutes later, the Timberwolves sent another ball through the box, leaving Jordan Anderson with a solid 1-on-1 with the keeper from near the penalty dot. She launched a rocket shot top shelf, but North Medford goalkeeper Hayley Haas punched it over the cross bar.
The 10th-seeded Black Tornado couldn’t clear the ball out of its zone before Tualatin was threatening once more. This time Hackelman dinged the ball from 25 yards out, leaving a dangerous rebound bouncing out front before the Tornado booted it to the side.
North Medford gave itself room to breath with Sydney Thomas making a series of throw-ins that put the ball deep in Tualatin’s end and earned the Tornado its first corner kick as the clocked ticked under five minutes before intermission.
Tualatin’s last rush at the goal came with 3:10 in the half when Anderson made her way through a pack of defenders, but she was slowed enough to allow Haas to come to the post and make the play.
North Medford brought a more balanced flow of play out of the break, keeping the ball in the midfield for the first 10 minutes of the second half.
“We started to find ways to get the ball into their end late in the first half, and we were determined to come out in the second half and take it to them,” North Medford forward Halley Folsom said.
“We got back to our possession game, but ultimately we just ran out of time,” Black Tornado coach Jeff Thomas said.
The Timberwolves started getting through on the attack in the middle stages of the second half, getting their best chance when Hackelman got loose on a breakaway into the box. Haas left the goal line immediately, forcing a quick shot from 15 yards out that she managed to slide low and block.
Still, the ball was loose near the top of the box with striker Togiai in the vicinity. But she was unable to get a foot on it before Haas regained her position in goal.
Togiai wouldn’t let her next chance slip away.
She controlled the ball on the edge of the box after a throw-in deep in Tornado territory. Togiai made a quick turn and fired before any defenders could react.
The ball was untouchable, curving just under the cross bar for the winning goal with 23:47 to play.
Less than two minutes later, Tualatin was awarded a penalty kick after sending a corner across the goal. Togiai stepped to the dot and hit a low roller to the left side. Haas made a leaping save to keep the Tornado within striking distance.
But a few minutes later, Togiai was left alone on the right side and hit a low ball to the near post. Haas made the initial block, only to have the close-range shot spin off her gloves and into the side of the goal to make it 2-0 with 19:30 left.
Despite being two goals down, the Black Tornado flipped the field a few times over the late stages with Folsom getting off a pair of solid attempts — one going just wide and the other forcing a save in the center of the goal line. She was awarded a golden soccer ball after being named North’s Most Outstanding Player for the match.
“We’ve seen plenty of games where a team is down 2-0 and gets back,” Folsom said. “We kept fighting. I kept believing that we could do it.”
Tualatin (16-2-1) has won five big-school titles in the last 10 years.
The Black Tornado (12-3-4) became the first Medford squad to play for a top-level girls soccer championship.
“Tualatin was by far the best team we’ve played,” Thomas said. “But the girls played their guts out and it doesn’t take anything away from this magical season.”