By BEN MCCARTY
News staff writer
November 15, 2006
The other schools in the Mt. Hood Conference are probably wishing the Hood River Valley boys’ soccer team would go back to the Intermountain League.
The Eagles made a triumphant return to the Mt. Hood this year, finishing second in the league to undefeated Central Catholic, and making it to the second round of the state playoffs.
“It was a great season,” Coach Doug Beveridge said. “It truly was a good group of kids.”
The team finished with an 11-2-3 overall record, was 10-1-3 in conference play, and averaged over 3.5 goals a game.
The Eagles failed to score a goal in only two games, a loss to Central Catholic in the penultimate game of the regular season, and in their second-round loss to Grant in the state playoffs.
The team also had four of the top five scorers in the league. Jesus Delgado was the top scorer in the league, while Diego Diaz was second Adrian Villa was third and Ceasar Hernandez was fifth.
Despite the loss in the playoffs, Beveridge considers the season an outstanding success.
“We worked hard, and a lot of fun doing it,” Beveridge said. “It was disappointing to lose that second round game, but we barely lost it.”
He also felt that there is more than enough credit to go around for the team’s run to the playoffs.
Beveridge said that the addition of Mo Brueckmann before the season started turned into “a pleasant surprise” and credited the German exchange student for being a good team member and solid contributor.
He also credited captains Nestor Barrera and Juan Villegas for setting the team’s tone and loosening up their teammates.
Ernesto Marquez played every position at the midfield and the backfield over the course of the season, and helped provide stability wherever he played for the Eagles.
In addition to seniors Brueckmann, Villegas, Marquez and Barrera, the team will also be losing seniors Joe Sager, Jose Valdovinos, Edgar Garcia, Joel Romero, Hector Panduro, Nick Maslen, Delgado and Villa.
That’s 12 roster spots that Beveridge will be looking to fill next season.
Luckily for him, he has a ready- made talent pool to draw from.
The boys’ JV team made an undefeated run through the conference this season and players from that squad will be moving up the ladder to varsity next year.
“A lot of players from that team will come in and help us immediately,” Beveridge said.
Next year’s squad will have a different look and will be significantly younger, but Beveridge does not expect a dropoff as younger players assume leadership roles.
He has high hopes for juniors Eddie Linares and Nathan Ponce.
Linares earned plenty of playing time and began emerging as a leader late in the season.
“I expect (Linares) to take on a strong leadership role,” Beveridge said.
Ponce, who was often overlooked because of the high-powered offense, had a solid year in goal and often protected Hood River leads and kept them in games.
Beveridge expects more of the same steady leadership that Ponce provided this season, and if Ponce should get hurt, as he was for two games this season, there will be another senior behind him, David Castro, who proved an able replacement during his time in goal.
Beveridge also expects current sophomores Rauel Marquez, Hernandez and Diaz to step into leadership responsibilities.
Marquez and Hernandez both came off the bench for the Eagles this season and provided a speedy spark for the offense when the stepped onto the pitch.
Diaz has been a starter since he was a freshman, and contributed solid play in the midfield as well as being a constant threat to score.
“I think we will be a young team next year but we will have a strong group of juniors and sophomores,” Beveridge said.
As for his team’s chances next season, Beveridge has high hopes.
“We’ll have to work at it like we did this year,” he said. “But I’m confident we’ll be a contender.”