By BEN MCCARTY
News staff writer
September 30, 2006
Through five non-conference games the Hood River Valley girls’ soccer had trailed only once and was undefeated.
They trailed for the second time of the season in the opening 10 minutes of Thursday’s Mt. Hood Conference opener against Centennial; and were defeated after 80 minutes when Centennial walked off the field with a 4-2 victory.
Whatever the Eagles tried, Centennial seemed to have an answer, leaving Hood River to rush possessions in its typically surgical offense for most of the second half of play.
“We started to get rushed and not possess the ball,” Hood River coach Joe Kelly said. “It was us being panicked.”
After Centennial scored in the opening minutes, Justine Bryant responded with a goal in the 14th minute for the Hood River, a shot that grazed off the fingertips of Centennial goalkeeper Jamie Wick before settling in the top of the net.
The Eagles then had several chances to gain the lead including a shot by Jennifer Hanners that skimmed just to the left of the Centennial goal in the 28th minute and a shot by Megan Clark that floated over the top bar in the 34th minute.
Centennial had a chance to break the tie in the 37th minute but LeConte Horton chipped a breakaway shot over the goal. The momentum swung firmly in Centennial’s favor when Hood River goalkeeper Hailey Thomas deflected a shot moments before the end of stoppage time only to have a Centennial player get to the ball before the defense could clear and knock it into the net.
After halftime, Hood River never seemed to be able to recover from the knife-twisting blow at the end of the previous half.
While the Centennial defense tightened up and took Bryant out of the game, the Eagles were unable to create many offensive opportunities. In the 51st minute, Jessica Ostler drew a penalty in the goal box, giving Hood River a penalty kick.
Bryant, who had converted a penalty kick two days earlier in a 3-0 win over Hermiston, squared up to take the kick. Bryant sent a low shot straight on at Wick, who didn’t even flinch before dropping to her to knees and making the save.
“Their goalkeeper made a difference today,” Kelly said. “She was good.”
Hood River continued to battle but was unable to develop many holes in the Centennial defense.
Hood River caught a break in the 64th minute when Centennial missed a shot on an open goal after Thomas was sprawled on the ground after diving to deflect a shot.
However, less than a minute later, the Eagles’ hopes of a comeback were broken when a Centennial player pounded in a shot from 15 yards out to take a 3-1 lead.
A few minutes later Wick stonewalled another comeback attempt when she snagged a high curling shot by Clark as it headed for the top right corner of the net.
With the minutes ticking away Centennial gave themselves an insurmountable margin when a shot from the right side curled its way into the top right corner of the Hood River goal for a 4-1 lead.
In the closing minutes, Dani Lichty booted in a goal to cut the gap to 4-2, but by then the outcome was all but decided.
“I thought we played a pretty good game today,” Kelly said. “We just made a couple of mistakes and it cost us.”
Two of Centennial’s goals came on possession battles inside the goal box, and Kelly knows that that the Eagles will have to improve that to get back on the winning track.
“It hurt us today because we didn’t win the ball in the air,” Kelly said. “We know that’s a weakness for us and we’ll be working on that.”
Hood River Valley next takes the pitch at David Douglas next Tuesday.