Update: Horizon defeated Grant Union by a score of 2-0 on Friday afternoon, raising its league record to 1-2-1. The Hawks must play Grant and Umatilla once more, which will determine their playoff fate.
In a league of only three teams, every game is a must-win.
But after falling to both their District 5 opponents already this season, the Horizon Christian Hawks have never needed a win more than they did on Friday against Grant Union.
The Hawks entered Friday’s game at 0-2-1 in league, and were hoping to avenge a 4-2 home loss to Grant last Friday.
Oct. 10 results were not available at press time, but if the Hawks could pull off a victory, they would remain right in the thick of the playoff race. A loss, however, would likely put them out of the running.
“We can smell it,” coach Hal Ueland said of his team’s playoff chances, which took a hit with the Oct. 3 loss to Grant.
“We really need a win on Friday, and I think we know how to approach Grant after playing them last week,” he said.
After all, Horizon was ahead of Grant 1-0 in the first half last Friday on Cheyne Swick’s goal, and tied 2-2 early in the second on a strike from Jared Nagreen.
Ueland said the Hawks had scoring chances all the way down to the final whistle, and he hoped to continue that momentum into this Friday’s game.
“Our kids are still learning to contribute without the ball,” Ueland said. “But if we can stay aggressive and keep the ball on the ground, we have a good shot against the teams in our league.”
Ueland added that two of Grant’s goals in the first meeting occurred on miscues by two of his most reliable players, defender Brian Stenberg and keeper Aaron Griffin.
“When is that ever going to happen again?” Ueland asked. “Those guys are as reliable as it gets, and if they play like I know they can, we’ve got a shot.”
Friday’s meeting with Grant Union was Horizon’s final home game. The Hawks still must travel to Umatilla and John Day (Grant’s hometown) before the District 5 standings are complete.