After dropping its first two conference games, the HRV girls soccer team was looking to get back on the winning track Monday against Barlow.
With their star center midfielder, Becca Meierbachtol, slowed by a hamstring injury and some concerns about their level of play last week against Gresham, the Eagles were looking for a lift.
And they got one, in the form of a speedy attacker who stands just five feet tall, but plays with the heart of a giant.
Sophomore forward Acer Lopez was all over the field Monday, and tallied two second half goals to help HRV earn a 3-3 tie at Westside Elementary.
Although the team didn't get the win is so desperately wanted, coach Sue Farro was happy to get a point in the conference standings.
"A win would have really helped a lot, and taken some of the pressure off us," she said. "But a tie doesn't hurt us in the standings."
Barlow showed why they are one of the favorites to win the Mt. Hood Conference this year, with quick passing, well-timed through balls and physical defense. But HRV played right with the Bruins the entire game, and maintained the lead until the 89th minute.
With time running short and HRV up 3-2, the ball was sent in from the left side and bounced around in the box before forward Ashley Shearer carefully placed it in the left side netting to even the score at 3.
Barlow had another chance in the game's final minute, but HRV goalkeeper Meghan Merz, who had 14 saves in the game, corralled the ball to secure the tie. Merz also made multiple diving saves in the second half to give the Eagles a chance against the feisty, well-coached Barlow side.
Like the Eagles, the Bruins always believe they have a chance to win, and showed their determination Monday in scrapping out a tie in the game's final minute. But despite Barlow’s never-say-die attitude, things were looking good for the Eagles.
They went into halftime with a one goal lead after Anna Hidle finished a superb cross from Meierbachtol early in the half. Then, just five minutes into the second half, Meierbachtol struck again, getting loose on the right side and sending a perfect cross to Lopez, who buried the ball in the left corner for a 2-0 lead.
Just five minutes later, Barlow got one goal back after an errant pass into the middle caught the HRV defense off guard. The Bruins later tied the score in the 75th minute on a beautiful far post shot by Megan Diebel.
However, Lopez didn't allow the Bruins to celebrate for long. Not even one minute later, she outsmarted a Barlow defender in the corner, took two dribbles and sent a bullet toward goal that the keeper couldn't control.
HRV stepped up the pace and continued to challenge the Bruins' defense until the final whistle. Lindsay McClure played tough at both outside midfield positions; Lisa Tedford, Jazzy Cohen and Meierbachtol outmuscled and outhustled the Bruins in the center of the field; while Lopez, Hidle and Mickie Halliday continually put pressure on the Bruins' defense.
But Barlow's counter-attack was equally strong, and they maintained their composure to salvage the tie late in the game.
"Barlow is a very good team that we should have beaten," Farro said. "We scored three times and that’s usually enough to win."
Despite allowing three second half goals, the defense of Elie Meierbachtol, Jody Gates and Candice Hoag sent away most every pass into the middle.
Cohen and Tedford also hustled back on defense and made some big plays in the air, but Barlow's quick front line proved it was up to the task.
The Eagles' goal of making the conference playoffs is still alive, and they will look to step up their game even higher today against Sandy.