Against two of the state's top 1A/B soccer teams, Trout Lake came away from last weekend's Sunnyside Christian tournament with a pair of ties.
The unbeaten Mustangs (4-0-2) played St. George's of Spokane to a 2-2 draw on Friday. The result was the same on Saturday as Trout Lake and Spokane's Valley Christian ended their match with score deadlocked 2-2.
On Friday, the Mustangs came out strong and took a 1-0 lead over the Dragons when sophomore Peter Schmid put one into the back of the net.
"I was surprised at how quickly we scored, but I knew it would be a tough match," noted Mustangs Coach Doug Dearden.
Trout Lake's 1-0 lead help up for five minutes as St. George's countered with a driving shot into the right corner of the Mustangs' goal.
The tie lasted until Trout Lake sophomore Kris Huffsmith snuck through St. George's defense for a goal into the left corner in the 27th minute.
The Dragons answered in the 32nd minute with a breakaway goal by sophomore striker Sean Johnson that knotted the match at 2-2.
According to Dearden, the second half turned into a defensive battle as both he and St. George's coach marked the strengths of the other team.
The struggle eventually got physical, and two St. George's players were ejected for double yellow (card) violations.
In the final 10 minutes, however, both teams had excellent chances to score.
A St. George's shot hit the crossbar and Trout Lake senior midfielder was unable to finish a breakaway with just the Dragons' goalie to beat.
"It was a good test for us, and we were happy to have the opportunity to win in the end," Dearden said. "We expect to see St. George's again, and next time the stakes could be a little higher."
The start of Saturday's match with Valley Christian saw the Mustangs get off to a flat start. By the end of a disappointing first half, they found themselves down 1-0 and behind for the first time this season.
During the break, Dearden said he encouraged his players "to focus on crisp passing" to create scoring opportunities.
Trout Lake did just that, putting together some excellent combinations leading to a left-footed shot from the 18-yard line by Woodruff that evened the score at 1-1.
The Panthers regained the lead after two calls against the Mustangs; through the use of two free kicks, Valley was able to put the ball in front of Trout Lake's goal.
Striker Troy Fridley finished the attack off with a powerful shot into the upper right corner for a 2-1 lead.
Trout Lake rallied, however, with another series of combinations that provided junior Mike Hansen with the chance to tie the score with 10 minutes remaining in the match.
"It was a great second half. I liked how our team played at the end, even though they were exhausted," Dearden said.
At Trout Lake 5, North Clackamas Christian 2 --
The Mustangs scored four goals in the first half en route to the Sept. 17 victory over the Saints, their fourth win in a row.
The day was colder and windier than usual for a September home match, but the wind favored Trout Lake in the first half as sophomore Kris Huffsmith scored two early goals for the Mustangs.
Seniors Brandon Woodruff and Andy Dick added goals to make the score 4-0 in the 25th minute.
In the second half, the Saints came out shooting in the early going and put in the first of two goals on a breakaway.
Huffsmith countered for the Mustangs, giving him a hat trick for the day.
"It was an excellent display of firepower in the first 25 minutes," Dearden noted, "but we allowed our concentration to lapse (in the second half) and were not satisfied with the result."