After a first half stalemate and back-and-forth action that didn’t yield a score 40 minutes into the game, the Tenino boys soccer team finally capitalized when it caught a break in the 47th minute against Centralia on the road.
Freshman forward Tyler Minerich, fresh off his first career hat trick less than 24 hours ago, found a bit of space and launched a sky-high shot that ricocheted off the crossbar after Centralia keeper Carlos Adrian Hernandez made a play on it.
But sometimes, in a scoreless stalemate, things just need to bounce your way to steal a win on the road against a 2A squad.
The ball fell right to the foot of Beaver midfielder Paydon Henderson, who made a quick move and drilled a shot past Hernandez for the game’s lone score, giving the Beavers a 1-0 win Saturday afternoon.
“You can’t score if you don’t take shots,” Beavers coach Kevin Schultz said. “Sometimes you need a little bit of luck, but there was execution there, we made the right decisions at the right time.”
It’s a big win for Tenino, which dropped its first game of the season at home to United, but have now rallied off two straight wins, both coming within 24 hours of each other against Hoquaim and now Centralia.
Thanks to a piece of luck around the net, and a strong defensive showing from keeper Alex Reichelderfer and the rest of Tenino’s backline, the Beavers are above .500 after one week of play.
“We were done less than 12 hours ago and then we’re playing again,” Schultz said. “It was a war of attrition, definitely not as many subs today. This is what we wanted though, we wanted to make sure we played two quality opponents, it was a good competitive match and our guys played strong.”
Reichelderfer finished with six saves, and the Beaver defense held off a frantic Tiger attack that had numerous chances at goals, but couldn’t quite get the ball past the keeper’s hands.
The Tigers best chance, and the only time they could get it past Reichelderfer, came in the first half, when after a shot rattled off the left post, the Tigers smacked the rebound through the back of the net, but were called offsides.
For the rest of the match, the Tigers just couldn’t finish attacks.
“We had a lot of really good chances, but that’s been the story all three games, we’re just not converting,” Tigers coach Henry Gallanger said. “We’re not finding the right spots. That’s a challenge that we have, it’s a belief thing.”
The Tigers, still in preseason and just three games into the season, are rotating subs and players that otherwise wouldn’t see as much time to build chemistry, and it’s come with mixed results.
Though Gallanger has seen his team’s chemistry improve over three games, he’s hoping that the substitutions made early this year will pay dividends as the league season ramps up next week.
“We have to learn to gel as a team, whoever our ballers are on the field have to figure out how to score,” he said. “Chances are there, but you only get 80 minutes to do it. We have some talented guys that can score, but we’re in the phase where the front portion of our attack, our midfielders, and backline haven’t played together. We know that we’ll look better at the end of the season than at the beginning, but the challenge is getting there.”
Meanwhile, for the Beavers, it’s another confidence boost for an older team that is just getting its soccer legs under them.
Schultz praised Reichelderfer for making some key saves in one-on-one situations, and the rest of his backline including Zach Byers, Toby Suess, and Cash Gallaher for helping out their keeper. Additionally, Oregon State football commit Takari Hickle stepped up and played his best game of the early season as well for Tenino.
“Takari had a really good game in the middle, he keeps getting better and better,” Schultz said. “As we play each game our team is going to get better. You can see them starting to understand positionally where they should be.”
The Beavers will look to keep it going against Eatonville on Wednesday in a league contest, while Centralia looks to get on the right track against Aberdeen on Tuesday.