HOOD RIVER — It probably shouldn’t have come down to a penalty kick in the final minute of the game, but for some strange reason, it did.
After taking a 2-0 early lead on two strikes from junior Jorge Hernandez, the Hood River Valley boys soccer team needed Alex Ponce’s penalty kick in the waning minutes to eke out a 3-2 home win over Bend last Friday at Westside Field.
Senior striker Jake Pruitt was blind-sided by the Bend goalkeeper with less than one minute remaining, and although Pruitt didn’t feel the play was dirty, he said he thought HRV deserved to win the game.
“No matter what, we should have won that game,” he said. “We should have put it away long before the PK, and I wish it didn’t have to come down to that. But we’ll take the win.”
The victory was HRV’s sixth in a row, but more importantly, it set up a pivotal rematch with the No. 3 state-ranked Redmond Panthers on Tuesday (results not available at press time) — a game that would likely decide the Intermountain Conference title.
“We all want that game so bad,” Pruitt said. “It would have been a big disappointment if we had tied because the Redmond game probably wouldn’t have meant as much.”
Heading into Tuesday’s rematch, the Eagles held an impressive 7-1 mark in the IMC, while the Panthers sat comfortably at 8-0.
Redmond won the first meeting 5-1 back on Sept. 11, but HRV has been focused on getting revenge ever since. Coach Doug Beveridge has been working tirelessly with his defense, and the proof has been in the results.
Led by sweeper Sean Rawson, stopper Lukas Berg and outside backs Jesus Lara and Miguel Najera, the HRV defense has only surrendered six goals during their six-game win streak.
Compare that to what the offense has done in that time (24 goals for), and Beveridge has reason to be confident.
“If it were up to me, I’d like to see teams like Redmond every game so we can prepare for the playoffs,” he said. “But we have been able to shut down the other teams’ attackers, and I think that will carry over to this game.”
Win or lose, the Eagles face another crucial matchup on Saturday against third-place Mountain View. HRV won the first meeting,
2-0, and will need another victory to ensure a home game for the first round of state.