HOOD RIVER — If the HRV soccer girls were trying to impress the critics on Saturday, they certainly did their job.
The unbeaten Eagles, who seem to have a flare for the dramatic, somehow overcame the pressure, the adversity and a key injury to defeat the Westview Wildcats, 3-2, on penalty kicks.
They took it right down to the last shot, too, advancing to the second round of the 4A state playoffs for the first time in their history.
“We all wanted this game more than any other game,” said senior defender Jodie Gates. “It feels so good to finally accomplish our goal of winning in the playoffs.”
But it wasn’t easy.
Down 2-0 before they had even broken a sweat — Westview scored twice in the first three minutes — the Eagles also had to overcome a missed penalty kick before they were able to tie the game on two quick strikes by Acer Lopez and Becca Meierbachtol.
Not even eight minutes had gone by, and suddenly, the score was knotted at two.
“I think the key to the comeback was that we all stayed really relaxed,” said junior defender Lisa Tedford, who scored on one of HRV’s six penalty kick attempts after a scoreless 10-minute overtime.
“Even though Becca missed the penalty kick early, it still helped us build momentum. Then, when Acer scored, we knew we could take ‘em. At that point, we all wanted it too much to let them steal the game,” she said.
Add the extra motivation of losing their star player (Meierbachtol) to injury late in the second half, and the Eagles were
destined for an Oscar-winning performance in overtime.
Lopez, Anna Hidle and Lindsay McClure quarterbacked the attack in place of Meierbachtol the rest of the way, and peppered the Wildcats’ goal with shot after shot before running out of time.
The deadlock sent the game to penalty kicks — a situation the Eagles had been practicing for all week. And that little bit of foresight paid off, as the Eagles made four of six PK’s to seal the win.
Becki Flory also made two key saves — the second of which sent the entire Eagles team and their coaches into a frenzy at midfield.
“Becki came up huge for us by blocking those two shots,” said Hidle, a junior midfielder who scored right before Flory’s game-winning save. “We all did a good job of maintaining our composure and believing in ourselves. That’s what this win was about.”
With the win, the Eagles advanced to the second round to face the No. 3-ranked team in the state, Tualatin, which is coming off a 7-0 first-round win over Wilson. The game was played at 6 p.m. Tuesday, but results were not available at press time. See the Nov. 9 edition for a complete wrap up.
Senior captain Becca Meierbachtol, the Intermountain Conference Player of the Year who missed Tuesday’s game due to a foot injury, will formally commit to the University of Portland this week. She was offered a soccer scholarship, and plans to begin playing next fall.