Thursday's boys soccer game was supposed be a test for Hood River Valley. Clackamas is considered the class of the Three Rivers conference and have a roster full of brutes to make many an opposing team quiver in its collective boots.
But the more they tried to strike fear into the Eagles with elbows to the back and slide tackles from behind, the more obvious it became how overmatched and outclassed they were.
HRV maintained its composure -- and the lead -- for the entire match, dancing all over the Cavaliers to the tune of a 5-0 shutout win at Westside Elementary.
Corey Vandlac scored three goals -- his third, fourth an fifth goals the past two games -- and Jordan Thompson netted two in the sparkling offensive display that left the Clackamas players scratching their heads.
"Today was a total team effort," Vandlac said. "We were consistent with our passing and use of the whole field, and never let them find a rhythm."
The Cavaliers were obviously frustrated by the Eagles' consistent, unbridled attack the entire first half, and realized their fate just five minutes into the second.
With the score 2-0, Alexander Ponce maneuvered around three defenders and found Vandlac at the top of the penalty box. He took one dribble and buried the ball in the lower left corner, completing the hat trick and giving his team all the confidence it would need to coast through the second half.
"I couldn't have done this alone," said Vandlac, who scored the team's only two goals in Tuesday's shutout win over Forest Grove.
"I've got five of the top players in the state to get me the ball, which is unheard of on a high school team. All I have to do is finish what they start," he said.
The modest Vandlac is, of course, referring to Olympic Development players Ponce, his brother Dereck Ponce, Matt Dallman and Thompson -- who, as a unit, have managed to systematically dismantle every opponent in the Eagles' 5-0 start.
Thompson was on fire Thursday as he controlled the midfield with crafty one-touch passes, through balls and off-the-ball runs. He also unleashed a few bullets on goal -- two of them resulting in goals.
On the first, which might be the goal of the year so far for the Eagles, defender John Wall's shot was deflected in the air to Thompson at the top of the box. He calmly controlled the ball with his right foot, transferred it to his left foot for a scintillating volley into the lower right corner.
The second was equally crowd-pleasing. Forward John Monk was dribbling toward goal and laid the ball off to Thompson about 30 yards from the goal. Much to the surprise of the Clackamas goalkeeper, Thompson sent a frozen rope on the ground into the lower left netting to cap the day's scoring.
Defensively, Ben Sauer was consistent in the air all game and kept the Cavaliers' physical front line in check by beating them at their own game. Superb defense by Sauer, Wall, Arnolfo Santillian and Nestor Elisea left HRV keeper Rafael Mondragon relatively untested.
Mondragon earned his second straight shutout, and the third of this young season. He will go for number four Monday against Glencoe. The Eagles begin conference play Thursday against Centennial.
"We're starting to work better together each game as we gear up for league," Vandlac said. "We're going to be really tough to beat this year."