REDMOND — After chomping at the bit for nearly a month, the Hood River Valley boys soccer team finally got another chance at first-place Redmond on Tuesday.
Hoping to avenge a 5-1 loss to the third-ranked Panthers back on Sept. 11, the No. 9-ranked Eagles played a spirited first half, holding Redmond’s high-powered offense in check for a 0-0 halftime score.
But it all came unraveled over a 12-minute stretch early in the second half, as the Panthers pounced on a series of HRV defensive breakdowns to dash the Eagles’ league title hopes by a score of 3-0.
“Redmond is big, strong, tall and fast, and they just kept the ball moving the entire game,” said HRV coach Doug Beveridge, whose team lost for just the second time this season to fall to 7-2.
“Objectively speaking, they were the better team on Tuesday. But we’re still not out of it. Second place ain’t bad, especially knowing that these guys are No. 1.”
After both teams played a near-flawless first half, the Panthers’ broke through for two quick strikes early in the second half — one on an own-goal — to create some breathing room.
Redmond then took control of the match in the 20th minute when Ryan MacKenzie perfectly timed a crossing pass by Chris Tompkins and headed the ball into the net for a 3-0 advantage.
“Everything was going pretty well in the first half,” said HRV senior goalkeeper Julio Loza. “But we had a few lapses early in the second, and everything went downhill from there.”
Loza said he thought the Eagle defense did an excellent job throughout, but they eventually wore down due to constant pressure from the Panthers’ attackers.
“We couldn’t seem to get our attack going all game,” he said. “It can be tough when you’re always defending because you can’t make any mistakes.”
However, while none of the Eagles were happy with the loss, Beveridge noted that all three Redmond goals were scored on corner kicks — which could be a potential ray of hope for the team if they face Redmond again.
“We’re looking for that silver lining,” he said, “and the fact is, anything can happen in the playoffs. Redmond may be the best team in the state right now, but if we meet them in the semis and play the game of our lives, I still think we can beat them.”
The Panthers (9-0 IMC; No. 3 in Class 4A poll) now have the inside track to the IMC title, while HRV must beat Mountain View today and Summit on Oct. 17 to ensure a second-place finish.
“We’re all glad to have the Redmond game out of the way,” Loza said. “That’s all we’ve talked about for a month, and now we can focus on what’s ahead.”