BEND — The easiest way to forget about a loss is to run off a bunch of consecutive victories.
Which is exactly what the Hood River Valley boys soccer team has done since a forgettable home defeat to Redmond on Sept. 11.
Behind goals from Jake Pruitt and Alvaro Lara, the Eagles earned their fourth straight win last Saturday, taking down playoff hopeful Mountain View by a score of 2-0.
And with games this week against last-place Pendleton and sixth-place Bend, they hope to extend that streak to six before facing Redmond in the rematch next Tuesday.
“We know that we are right there with Redmond,” coach Doug Beveridge said. “We have been matching results with them, beating the same teams by the same margins. So that definitely gives us confidence. All the guys want that game so bad, and I expect us to play much better the second time around.”
Part of the reason for the four-game win streak has been the Eagle defense, which has helped the team compile a plus-11 goal differential (15 for; four against) during that time.
Despite the absence of their top two goalkeepers, Saturday’s game at Mountain View was HRV’s first shutout of the year, and the players feel like they have come a long way since surrendering five goals to Redmond.
“I can’t speak for the other guys, but I am playing with a lot more confidence now,” said sophomore outside back Jesús Lara. “I don’t panic as much, and I am able to understand what the center backs are telling me to do.”
Beveridge’s “coach on the field,” junior sweeper Sean Rawson, had been teaming up with German exchange student Lukas Berg in the middle. But Berg injured his knee against Mountain View and may be out for the next two games.
The injury has forced midfielder Alvaro Lara to resume his duties in the middle defense — a position he has played for most of the past two seasons.
“Our defense is steadily improving with every game, and I think that will be the difference the next time we play Redmond,” Beveridge said. “Alvaro is able to play a number of positions and he will keep us strong in the middle.”
Regardless of who plays where, Beveridge says that the Eagles must continue to deny the ball behind the defense if they are to continue winning. And by the looks of things, the “attack from the back” system is catching on.
“No space, no time is what coach keeps telling us,” Jesús Lara said. “We just need to keep attacking the whole game.”