Saturday’s home showdown with Mountain View could have been the biggest game all season for the HRV soccer girls.
If it weren’t for Friday’s 1-1 tie against Summit, the much-anticipated rematch with the Cougars could have been a battle for first place in the Intermountain Conference.
But, the fact that Mountain View had clinched the league title on Friday didn’t make the game any less important for the Eagles. They still had something to prove.
And they proved their worth in a big way, winning 1-0 behind Lindsay McClure’s second goal of the season at the 12-minute mark of the second half.
“We all wanted this game so bad,” said junior striker Acer Lopez, who accounted for most of the Eagles’ 13 shots in the absence of leading scorer Becca Meierbachtol. “We were all a bit frustrated with the tie on Friday, but I think it helped us fight back better mentally, today.”
Lopez and the Eagles had tied Mountain View back on Sept. 28 in Bend, and most of the HRV players felt they were the better team that day as well. And, after playing them so confidently the first time, the Eagles undeniably had a leg up the second time around.
“We showed that we’re the best team in the conference,” junior defender Lisa Tedford said. “It’s no fun to know that we could have won the league title without all those ties, but this win still means a lot.”
The loss also meant a lot to the Cougars, but winning the league title was foremost on their minds.
“Knowing that we were already IMC champs, this game didn’t mean as much as it could have,” Mountain View senior sweeper Matea Haugen said.
“But I wouldn’t say we didn’t give them our best game. They are one of the best teams in the conference and they proved it,” she said.
With two games remaining, HRV is still unbeaten and stands at 7-0-5 on the season. They hosted seventh-place Pendleton on Tuesday (results not available at press time) and will complete the regular season Thursday with a road trip to Prineville and a date with sixth-place Crook County.
“We don’t want to get overconfident, but based on what we saw from those teams the first time, we’re counting on two wins,” Tedford said.
The Eagles will be forced to do it without Meierbachtol, a league-MVP candidate who is out with a severe case of tendinitis in her right foot.
“I’m most likely done till playoffs,” the senior team captain said. “Tendinitis is one of those injuries that you just have to be patient with. I’m hoping that if I stay off it for a week, I’ll be ready to go.”
Meierbachtol complimented the play of junior Anna Hidle, who filled in the center midfield over the weekend.
“Anna played awesome, especially against Mountain View,” she said. “She was all over the place and really helped control the middle of the field. That’s just what the team needed.”
That, and a little help from the defense. Elie Meierbachtol, Jodie Gates, Candice Hoag, Brittany Reed and Tedford were able to squash the Cougars attack in both halves, while senior goalkeeper Becki Flory recorded her fifth shutout of the season.
She hopes to add two more to that total this week as the Eagles tune up for a first-round playoff matchup with the Metro Conference’s No. 3 seed on Nov. 2 — a game that will be played at Westside.
Senior forward/midfielder Jazzy Cohen scored her fifth goal of the season to help the Eagles record a 1-1 tie with Summit on Friday.