The playoffs will not be here for another two months, but one could be forgiven for thinking time had jumped ahead Thursday afternoon.
One of the top 5A teams in the state, Hood River Valley, was playing host to one of the top 6A teams, and the match had all the intensity of a state playoff.
HRV got an early goal from Sean Lund and then answered every challenge from the Lakers the rest of the way to win 3-2 in a hard-fought contest.
"We tired them out with our passing and they couldn't keep up so they starting getting physical," said HRV coach Jaime Rivera. "It was a tough win."
It appeared the game would turn into a high scoring affair, when three goals were scored in the final 10 minutes of the first half, but HRV was the only team to find the net in the second half. Jose Campos blasted in the game-winner for the Eagles in the 52nd minute and HRV won the possession battle the rest of the way to secure the win.
"This proves we have the skills to score and then keep the pressure up," Lund said.
Both Laker goals came as a result of slow reactions in the box by Eagle defenders following Lakeridge free kicks, and Rivera said the team committed to staying more focused in the locker room at halftime.
The commitment bore out on the field as the Lakers got few good looks at the goal in the second half, and the Eagles continued to put on the pressure at the other end.
Following Campos' go-ahead goal in the 52nd the Eagles had several other chances to score. Campos missed a penalty kick in the 68th minute when he launched his shot well over the net, and Jose Barrera, Sal Sosa and Campos again all had good looks that either missed or were saved by the Lakeridge goalkeeper.
"We made good decisions and got good shots," Campos said. "We just need to finish better."
The Eagles moved the ball quickly up the field and the rapid movement and precision passing led to Lund's opening goal in the third minute.
After both teams played at a frenetic pace for the next 25 minutes, Lakeridge broke through in the 29th minute when a free kick deflected off the cross bar and into a scramble of players before a Lakeridge forward booted it in.
The Eagles answered moments later when Jose Ortiz lofted a free kick into the box that also hit the bar and was knocked to the feet of Jose Muro, who shot across the keeper for the goal.
The Lakers answered with another free kick goal a minute later to send the teams to the half in a tie.
However the Eagles quickly broke the tie and got a big win against a good 6A team.
"It felt good," Muro said. "I think we made the crowd happy."
Rivera credited his team for holding onto possession not getting rattled as Lakeridge began to get physical in the final 20 minutes as it tried to get the equalizer.
"That's what we've been preaching," he said. "We knew we had a collection of young talent guys. It was just up to them to make the right decisions."
The Lakers never really threatened to score in the final minutes, and Rivera hopes to see similar focus and intensity going forward.
"The boys really responded," he said. "I would have been disappointed if (Lakeridge) had scored and tied the game."
While it won't help the Eagles in their quest for a league title, the victory could help the Eagles when it comes time to determine playoff seeding. Lakeridge is ranked No. 6 in the 6A OSAA power rankings, and the win lifted the Eagles to third in the 5A rankings.
The Eagles will sport a 2-0 record after beating Lakeridge and getting a 2-1 win at Rex Putnam to open the season. Lund and Campos both scored in HRV's win over the Kingsmen.
The Eagles host Cleveland Tuesday.
HRV girls drop first two games: The Hood River Valley girls team got off to a rough start in the first two games of a three-game road swing to open the season. The Eagles lost 4-0 to Rex Putnam Tuesday and then lost 2-0 to Lakeridge Thursday. Megan Winans had 25 saves for HRV in the loss. The Eagle girls play at Cleveland Tuesday and then have their home-opener Thursday vs. Wilson.