As recently as six weeks ago, the HRV soccer girls' season goal of qualifying for the state playoffs appeared dim.
They had just lost 5-0 to Central Catholic and had their backs against the wall in the conference standings -- fifth place in a four-team race.
The Eagles not only had to beat Reynolds on Oct. 22, but they needed Barlow to lose its final two games against Central Catholic and Gresham to even have a shot.
As fate would have it, the girls did get their chance. They rediscovered the team game that helped them compile a 5-0-1 record in nonconference play to beat Reynolds 5-2 behind two goals each from Acer Lopez and Mickie Halliday.
Barlow also did its part, losing two one-goal games to close out the season, which set up a playoff game Oct. 27 for the fourth and final conference playoff berth.
The rest, as they say, is history -- as in school history.
The Eagles played tough on both ends of the field to overcome a strong Barlow side, winning the game 2-1 behind Becca Meierbachtol's two goals and superlative defensive efforts by Elie Meierbachtol, Jody Gates and Lindsay McClure.
Goalkeeper Meghan Merz also had a big hand in the victory -- more like two hands, two legs and an iron stomach -- making one ingenious save after another on the rain-soaked pitch to thwart the Bruins' comeback attempt.
The win gave HRV its first-ever trip to the 4A state playoffs, and set up a tough first-round matchup at South Medford. The Eagles made the most of their opportunity, but the Panthers' physical, kick-and-run style ultimately wore them down, as they conceded the match 3-0.
But despite the loss, not one player had reason to hang her head -- each knowing that the team had overcome improbable odds to even be in that position.
Coach Sue Farro was proud of the girls for maintaining a positive attitude throughout and coming together as a team to achieve their goal.
"This was a positive experience for everyone," she said. "We'll be more prepared next year because now we know what these big games are like."
Although the team will lose six players to graduation -- Keely Reed, Nicole Sherell, Merz and starting midfielder Lindsay Benjamin, plus all-conference selections Halliday and Mari-Beth Ortega -- Farro will return a solid corps of talent for next season.
Fellow all-conference selections Lisa Tedford (D), Lopez (F) and the Meierbachtol twins -- Becca (M) and Elie (D) -- will lead the way, with Gates (D), McClure (M/D), Jazzy Cohen (M/F) and Anna Hidle (F) rounding out the starting lineup.
Candice Hoag (D/F), Brittany Reed (D/F) and Becki Flory (M) will also return to the varsity mix, while JV standouts Katie Flory (F), Amy Carroll (M), Alicia Friend (D) and Ruby Brunk (GK) compete for playing time.
Becca Meierbachtol and Tedford will continue to play Portland Select throughout the year and hope to begin 2002 even stronger.
Lopez and Hidle join Meierbachtol as the the primary scoring threats, and hope Cohen continues her superb playmaking from center mid.
Defenders Gates, McClure and Elie Meierbachtol will also be one year stronger and will be integral in helping the Eagles achieve their new goal for next season -- getting past the first round of state.