HOOD RIVER — You could have cut the tension with a knife Thursday as the HRV girls soccer team started the new season in much the same way it finished last season — on the ropes.
After falling behind on a fluke goal in the game’s first 15 minutes, the Eagles battled back to tie the game with less than 15 minutes to play, and escaped with 1-1 a tie against a feisty Redmond squad at Westside Field.
“I wouldn’t say we’re happy with a tie because we probably could have beat them,” said senior defender Elie Meierbachtol, who netted a beautiful, bending freekick from 30 yards late in the second half to knot up the score.
However, while the girls know they could have fared better against a young Panthers team, they also know that they didn’t lose any precious ground in the Intermountain Conference standings.
“We weren’t really playing our game today,” Meierbachtol said. “This was our first game playing together and we don’t have any preseason games this year to help us find our rhythm. Every game counts, and I know we can step it up.”
Coach Sue Farro was confident in much the same way.
“We were knocking on the door for 60 — maybe 70 — minutes today,” she said. “We have lots to improve on, but the good news is, it’s just our first game.”
Farro and the Eagles know that to compete for one of four IMC playoff berths, they must iron out some inconsistencies on the attack, which was intense in spurts, but also stagnant at times.
HRV poured it on in the first 15 minutes of both halves, with numerous chances either hitting the post or barely missing wide. But, while the Eagles missed a few scoring opportunities they would like to have back, they were able to break through the Redmond defense when it counted.
“We were really happy to score on that set piece because we’ve been working on it a lot in practice,” Farro said. “Elie placed the ball perfectly and ended up bailing us out.”
Meierbachtol’s sister Becca, a center midfielder, provided the Eagles’ other two prime scoring chances on the day, as she hit the inside of the post during the first half, and sent a stellar cross into the box during the second that junior forward Acer Lopez missed just wide.
Junior defender Lisa Tedford and senior midfielders Lindsay McClure and Jazzy Cohen also had some near misses that could have frustrated HRV into submission. But the girls never gave up and were able to eke out a much-deserved draw.
The defense should also be commended for a fine effort. Along with Tedford and Elie Meierbachtol, seniors Jodie Gates, Brittany Reed and Candice Hoag were rock solid the entire game, and gave up very few chances to the Redmond attackers.
Another bright spot for HRV on Thursday was the emergence of senior goalkeeper Becki Flory, who showed how quick off her line and sure-handed she is on numerous breakaway attempts.
Last but not least, freshman Jessica McMorran and seniors Ruby Brunk and Jenny Villagomez saw their first varsity action.