Wednesday, November 3, 2010
The Hood River Valley Eagles were not happy about missing a chance to clinch the Columbia River Conference league title in a 1-1 tie against Hermiston last week.
They didn't miss their second chance against The Dalles-Wahtonka, seizing control of the game in the second half on a cold, wet Tuesday afternoon for a 4-1 victory.
"It was a great win," HRV coach Kevin Haspella said. "Weird things can happen when the rain comes but the title was on the line and they played composed."
The win gave the Eagles, undefeated in league play at 5-0-1, the conference championship and left TDW in second place at 3-2-1.
Both teams had a few chances early in the game, but the defenses were stout until the 19th minute when HRV forward Emily Thompson fired a shot that bounced off the outstretched hands of TDW goalkeeper Meghan Erlenbush, ricocheted off the right goalpost and into the net.
"I was just so pumped for this game," Thompson said. "It was senior night and we were really pumped from our tie with Hermiston and I just wanted to score really bad."
HRV had barely finished celebrating when TDW answered 15 seconds later. The Eagle-Indians pushed the ball straight up the field after gaining possession following the HRV goal and Nikki McCall blasted a shot past several stunned Eagle defenders to tie the game.
One minute later, it was the TDW defense's turn to be caught napping, as Aspen Braniff blew past multiple defenders and put a shot into the net to give the Eagles a 2-1 edge.
They would not relinquish the lead as the Eagle defense closed ranks the rest of the way.
"We've been improving throughout the season and I just love my defensive line," defender Skye Windsor said. "It was really hard because they have some really good offense but we just shut them down."
While TDW never mounted a significant scoring threat again, the Eagles kept the pressure on. They had four consecutive corner kicks in the 35th minute as they searched for an insurance goal, but none of them could find a finisher.
"Our defenders were fantastic today," Haspella said. "Many of players had their best game of the season; Shea Keller did a great job controlling the ball and passing, but our defense really won the game for us today."
The Eagles didn't waste any time putting the game away in the second half.
Emily Ing gave HRV its insurance goal in the 49th minute when she raced ahead of a defender and crossed a shot past Shanelle Smith at point-blank range.
Thompson capped the scoring with her second goal of the day, launching a shot in from 25 yards out in the 53rd minute.
"We were hoping to get a win today but it doesn't always turn out that way," TDW coach Colby Tonn said. "As far as playoff position goes, nothing is hurt."
The win sends the Eagles into the playoffs as the league's No. 1 seed and gives them a chance to go to the state playoffs for the first time since 2007.
They will host either St. Helens or Jefferson Thursday at 6 p.m. at Henderson Stadium.
"We know how it feels to lose," Windsor said. "But now that we are winning it is so sweet."
At halftime the Eagles honored seniors Aspen Braniff, Kim Costello, Emily Ing, Alicia Everitt, Jenny Gomez, Cristal Cornejo, Shealee Keller and Sam and Maddie Chambers.
"They gave me a lot of trust coming into this season as a new coach," Haspella said. "I admire their integrity in trusting a new leader they earned themselves as we went through the season. I learned from them and they learned from me and that's the best a coach can ask for."