Panthers earn first win before spring break

The soccer ball rolled Washougal’s way Friday, and the Panthers got the goals they needed to win their first game of the season.

Jamison Wright and Nelson Lord netted points in each half to help Washougal beat White Salmon 2-0. Nicholas Erickson and Wright chipped in with assists, and JJ Dobles made six saves for the Panthers.

“Our record isn’t indicative of the progress we’ve made. The last three games, these guys have really started to gel,” said head coach John Tyger. “We are not a 1-7 team. We are going to be a team to deal with in the second half. I really believe that.”

After the first few shots by Washougal players hit the crossbar or sailed over the net, Wright cashed in a cross from Erickson to get the Panthers on the board with just four minutes before halftime.

“Nick was dribbling the ball through the center. I saw an opening and went for it,” Wright said. “He saw me run through, it was just a perfect pass and an easy slot in.”

The Panthers defended a corner kick just before halftime. Erickson, Christian Schicker, Ryan Anderson and Collin Prangley held the backline together. White Salmon had an opening, but the shot was blocked. Dobles got to the ball before the Bruins could reload.

“I’ll drive by here at times in December, and [Dobles] is out here for an hour with the soccer ball by himself. Nobody does that. The guy is unbelievably dedicated,” Tyger said. “He just gets hard on himself when he misses a ball, and the other guys pick him up.”

Washougal needed an insurance goal in the second half. Lord delivered it on a skip by Wright with 16 minutes left in the game. The ball had some velocity on it as it struck the back of the net, untouched.

“Jamison gave me a through ball right between two defenders,” Lord said. “I saw the left side was open and just slotted it right there.”

Lord added that this was his first varsity goal. Coach Tyger said he was surprised to hear that considering how many times the WHS senior gets around the ball near the goal.

“Nelson plays like he’s 7-feet fall,” Tyger said. “He’s tenacious. He’s just really difficult to get off the ball.”

After stumbling out of the gate, Tyger said Washougal turned a corner during a 2-1 loss to Hockinson March 27. Despite losing two players to injuries, the Panthers rallied to tie the score and force overtime.

“At the beginning, we were losing 6-0,” Wright said. “And now we won, which is crazy.”

Washougal faces Columbia River Monday, April 10, at Kiggins Bowl. The Panthers then host Mark Morris Wednesday, April 12, and R.A. Long Friday, April 14. All three games begin at 7 p.m.

Tyger said the season is far from over.

“These kids have such great attitudes,” he added. “They listen and they want to do well. That’s the fun part.”