HOOD RIVER — It wasn’t exactly how they drew it up, but the Hood River Valley boys soccer team earned its 10th win of the season last Friday, 2-1, against playoff-bound Summit.
Alexander Ponce’s 25-yard laser with 6 minutes remaining broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Eagles a chance to improve on their record of one year ago.
“This one wasn’t in the bag until the very end,” said the senior midfielder/ striker, who leads the team with 15 goals. “Summit played us a lot tougher than last time, and we really had to play a strong second half to pull it out.”
HRV (10-2 IMC) led 1-0 at halftime on Jorge Hernandez’s 12th goal of the season. Summit tied it up less than 5 minutes into the second half, and caught the Eagles in a 20-minute lull that could have cost them the game.
But HRV snapped out of it just in time, and eventually got the boost they needed when Todd Price found Ponce all alone near the top of the box, where he drilled the ball into the side netting, just out of reach of the Storm keeper.
“It doesn’t get any better than that,” said coach Doug Beveridge, whose team wrapped up the No. 2 seed in the Intermountain Conference with two games left to play. “Alex just picked his spot and Summit didn’t know what hit them.”
Ponce said the Eagles never felt that the game was in doubt. But, at the same time, neither did Summit, which will likely enter the postseason as the IMC’s No. 4 seed.
“Summit has some good players,” Ponce said. “I’ve played against a few of them in club, and they know how to compete. But I thought our defense did an even better job than the first meeting, and that was the key.”
HRV was playing without forward Obed Garduño, who has emerged as an offensive catalyst for HRV over the past three weeks. And while the Eagles know they have a quality team, they also know Garduño makes them better.
“We really needed a third forward today,” Ponce said. “Obed is a real presence in the lineup and he helps take the load off of me and Jorge up front.”
With last Friday’s win, the Eagles are assured of a home playoff game on Nov. 1 against the Three Rivers League’s No. 2 seed — potentially Lakeridge, Clackamas or Oregon City, which are all ranked among the top 15 teams in the state.
“We can play with anyone, but we need to be on our game,” Beveridge said. “I think we are as good as anybody on our day, and we are fortunate to have a home game in round one.”
HRV has only lost two games on its home field over the past three seasons — both to Redmond — and the players would like to extend that dominance into the playoffs.
“I think we’re ready,” Ponce said. “Summit and Mountain View were good games to prepare, and if we can avoid a mental letdown, we should be fine.”
The Eagles played their final regular season home game Tuesday against Pendleton, and will complete the IMC season Friday at Crook County.