Defense keys state title hopes
Saturday's OSAA girls soccer state finals figure to be low-scoring, but energized by the presence of local teams - only Sisters is more than a 30-minute commute from the Hillsboro Stadium/Liberty High School off-ramp from Highway 26.
The finalists in both the Class 5A and 3A matches are long-time league rivals.
And two teams, Tualatin and Sherwood, are aiming for perfect seasons.
SUNSET VS. TUALATIN
Sunset lost only to Jesuit and Westview, two of the other top 3 seeds in the 32-team bracket, and is in the final for the first time since 1992. The Apollos have ourscored their four playoff opponents 7-2, but four of those goals came in one win. They've won three playoff games by 1-0 scores.
Tualatin allowed just two goals all season, an amazing total, and didn't lose or tie a game once. But, that only earned the Timberwolves a second seed in their quarter of the playoff bracket because the competition in the Pacific Conference didn't measure up to the Metro League, which had three No. 1 seeds. The Timberwolves reached the quarterfinals last season.
SHERWOOD VS. WILSONVILLE
When the Wildcats lost 5-2 at Sherwood, Oct. 11, they were just 2-4-2, but the experience from those games, including two losses to Metro League teams, helped them reel off nine wins in 10 games, including a win in overtime and in penalty kicks in the playoffs. The win in penalty kicks came over top-seeded Summit.
Sherwood has given up just seven goals all season, but also needed a win in overtime and then penalty kicks in the opening two rounds. The Bowmen had a string of seven consecutive shutouts heading into the playoffs.
GLADSTONE VS. SISTERS
Since losing its opening two matches to Scappoose and Philomath, Gladstone is 16-0 and has given up just three goals. The Gladiators avenged their opening two losses with a 3-0 win over Scappoose and 2-0 win over Philomath, both in the playoffs.
Sisters allowed goals in just four games, but needed penalty kicks to beat Mazama in the semifinals, three days after a 1-0 win over Henley. The Outlaws have one of the top combined GPAs in the state at 3.83.
The playoff bracket, just as happened with the 4A boys bracket, played out perfectly with home teams winning every game until the semifinals, when both visiting teams prevailed.
CATLIN GABEL VS. OREGON EPISCOPAL
The league rivals meet for the third time this season, with Catlin Gabel having scored a 1-0 win after the teams tied 1-1 earlier. While the Eagles have the edge in overall record and seeding, and they're the defending champions, they're not much of a favorite as eight of their 15 wins are by two goals or less Other than a 3-0 loss in their second game, the Eagles have allowed just nine goals.
The Aardvarks opened the season at 1-2 with the losses coming to Class 4A playoff-bound Cleveland and Philomath. Since then, they've allowed just seven goals and won their two playoff matches by a combined score of 8-1.