After two major blowout losses, the Hood River Valley High School varsity boys soccer team had some serious soul searching to do. And whether they're out of the funk completely or not, Tuesday's 5-0 win against Pendleton was a major step in the right direction.
In the midst of the on-the-road whoopings from Grant and Woodburn, two senior varsity starters left the team, leaving the squad with low morale coming into its schedule of league matches which started this week.
"Any time a team loses two starters, it's going to have an effect on the way the rest of the team plays," said coach Jaime Rivera. "That was definitely reflected in the two losses. But, it's like the coaches have been telling the team, you've got to rally through it. You've got to keep positive energy flowing, come together as a team, find new leaders and stand behind each other. And they're doing that. It's pretty cool to see how they are coming together."
Rivera noted that, going into league play Tuesday at Pendleton, the boys were ranked third in the state at the 5A level, and their rout against the Buckaroos put the Eagles on top of the Columbia River Conference standings after the first round of league play.
Edgar Villegas, Jose Ortiz, Erik Gutierrez, Tuan Nguyen and Cesar Romero all had a goal each in the shutout, showing a strong all-around team performance that coaches have been enthusiastic about this season.
"We had to bounce back after last week, and we did," Rivera said about the Pendleton game. "The boys need to remember that the teams we lost to were two of the best in the state. They were pretty bad losses, which is unlike Hood River, but still, they were very solid teams. Our preseason schedule was tough, and hopefully it will prepare us well for the rest of the season."
Next up for the Eagles is a home match Wednesday against Hermiston (4-2-0, 1-0 conference); 4 p.m.