After seeing so many things go wrong and so many opportunities missed by his team over the first 68 minutes of their game against Franklin Thursday night, Josue Barrera was sure to get it right when opportunity fell, literally, right at his feet.
With his team down a goal and time running out, Barrera collected a ball jarred loose when teammate Sean Lund collided with Franklin goalkeeper Quinn Nortage on a header attempt and dribbled it into an open net for an equalizing score.
"It was just like, 'Oh my God, I have to put this in,'" he said.
"'This has got to go in; it's the first goal of my HRV career.'"
It did go in and after battling through an injury-plagued senior season Barrera had his first goal.
He didn't have to wait long to get his second.
In the 71st minute he outraced a pair of defenders up the sideline and then blasted a shot to the far post past a diving Nortage.
Barrera's brace propelled HRV past Franklin 2-1 and into the state playoffs.
"That was the best way I could have gotten my first two goals," Barrera said.
In recent years the Eagles have typically blown by their opponents in the first round of the state playoffs - when they were a 6A team in the Mt Hood Conference - or their play-in opponents at the 5A level last year, only to struggle in the next round.
HRV coach Jaime Rivera said the mental boost of having to overcome adversity just to move on to state would benefit his team come Tuesday when it hosts a game against either Crescent Valley or Bend.
"This is great; we were down a goal and were able to come back and equalize and then win," he said. "Mentally that is so good for this team."
Both teams struggled to gain control of the game early, with Franklin doing most of the attacking for the first 20 minutes and HRV sending disorganized attacks at the Quakers for the next 20.
Franklin did not need much time to put HRV on its heels to start the second half, though. In the 45th minute HRV goalkeeper Alfonso Mendiola made a leaping punch-out of a shot by Joseph Dessau to keep the game scoreless. He could not do anything to stop Dager Parra less than a minute later when the Franklin junior collected a loose ball off a corner kick and slotted it past the diving HRV keeper.
The goal snapped the Eagles out of their funk and they began pushing the Franklin defense harder with more coordinated attacks. The increased tempo and intensity level led to some chippiness and hard tackles on both sides as the Eagles pressed their attack.
The Eagles' desperation to score left them open to counterattacks, however, and Hisam Abdull Wahab nearly gave the Quakers a two-goal lead in the 54th minute when he danced by several HRV defenders and launched a rocket from 10 yards out that Mendiola was able to knock down.
Over the next 15 minutes the Eagles had numerous chances just miss. Several were called back for offside, and others saw forwards running free only to have the final pass go just beyond their reach.
Which was why Barrera was so sure to bury his golden opportunity when given the chance.
"Josue hasn't been able to play much this year but he was ready to go," Rivera said. "He's a dynamic player and can have a big impact for us."
Just before Barrera's goal, Lund barreled toward the goal trying to run down a long pass. Ball, Lund and Nortage all arrived at the same instant. Lund and Nortage went down in a heap and the ball went right to Barrera. While the Franklin defense paused and begged for a foul, Barrera dribbled the ball into the net.
Following his second goal three minutes later, Franklin suddenly found itself having to switch from a prevention defense to an all-out attack with time draining away.
"That was a great pass from whoever got it to me," Barrera said after the game. "I honestly don't know who it was; it was all just a blur."
Despite the Franklin pressure the Eagles seemingly had the game in hand until a last-gasp attack in the final minute nearly sent the game into extra time.
Several Franklin forwards crashed toward the net in the last 60 seconds and a shot by one deflected off another Franklin player - and right past a diving Mendiola - but went wide of the far post by a yard.
"I was so nervous," the senior HRV goalkeeper said of the final frantic minutes. "I wanted to pick it up for my team."
That would be the last chance the Quakers would have and when the final whistle sounded Barrera found himself mobbed at midfield by his teammates.
"We knew we had to win this game; we never gave up," Barrera said. "We had to do it."
Thanks to scheduling their play-in game early the Eagles now have five days to tune up before starting state play in the round of 16, where they will be looking to make a deeper run then last season, when they lost in the first round to Sherwood on their home field.
"I think we will win our next one now for sure," Mendiola said. "We now we should have played like we did the last 20 minutes for the first 60 minutes."
Besides, now the Eagles have a new secret weapon.
Now that he has his first taste of the back of the net, Barrera wants to score a few more before his career comes to a close.
When asked if he has any goals left to up his career total in the state playoffs, the reason that HRV is moving on grinned:
"I think I do."
The Eagle boys clinched a share of the Columbia River Conference Tuesday night by beating The Dalles-Wahtonka 1-0. Before the game the Eagles honored seniors Sal Sosa, Jose Ortiz, Erik Gutierrez Josue Barrera and Martel Verduzco
The Eagle girls won the Columbia River Conference title Tuesday with a big assist from the Pendleton Buckaroos. The Eagles beat The Dalles-Wahtonka 1-0 in The Dalles on a TDW?own goal. To win the title outright they needed Hermiston to lose or draw with Pendleton, a team Hermiston beat 4-0 earlier this year. The Bulldogs obliged as Pendleton scored early and hung on for a 1-1 draw to give the Eagles the league title.
HRV was scheduled to host Milwaukie in a play-in game Friday at HRVHS with the winner earning the rights to a road state playoff game, likely at Crescent Valley Tuesday.