Saturday, November 2, 2002
On paper, it would appear that today’s state-playoff opponent, North Salem, has gone up against a few more state contenders than Hood River Valley has during the 2002 regular season.
But on the field, the No. 3 seed from the Valley Conference knows it will be tested by another contender when it takes to the Westside Field turf today at 1 p.m.
“I don’t know much about them (HRV),” said Vikings coach Rich Swartzentruber, “but I know what they did last year.”
Swartzentruber’s team hasn’t made the postseason since 1999, but had a solid second half of the season, and will come into today’s game with some big-game experience.
North Salem finished with a record of 6-3 in the Valley Conference and went 10-4 overall. After a rough start, which included losses to No. 2 state-ranked Crescent Valley (6-1) and a strong McMinnville side (5-0), the Vikings went on to win five of their final six games.
Their only loss during that stretch was to Valley No. 2 seed, Corvallis, which is also considered to be among the state’s top 15.
“In a way, it’s a success for us to even be in the playoffs,” Swartzentruber said. “We started off the season with some tough losses, but the past month has been a huge turn-around. If we can avoid playing like we did early, we should be able to give them a good game.”
Meanwhile, the Eagles, who have run off six straight wins — enough for a No. 9 ranking in the most recent AP state poll — hope to keep rolling right along.
“The week off really helped us to focus and get healthy,” HRV coach Doug Beveridge said. “This is what we’ve worked for and we’re ready to take care of business.”
In order to come out on top, the Eagles will have to stop an attack that resembles their own.
“We have pretty good speed at most of our positions,” Swartzentruber said, “and we tend to play a short-passing game as opposed to using the long ball. If our skill players get a lot of touches, they can create.”
The Vikings rely on two seniors for leadership and two younger players for firepower. Stopper Luis Maciel and center midfielder Patrick Callero were first-team all-conference selections and provide the foundation for the goal-scorers, junior Jose Gonzalez and sophomore Omar Gasca.
HRV’s defense will have its hands full, but with a season goal differential of plus-27, the Eagles should be able to get back whatever they give up.
“We’re not going to change much,” Beveridge said. “We’re just going to try to control the game from the start.”
The winner of today’s game will move on to face either Lincoln or Centennial in round two on Nov. 5.