There were no first-round stumbles for the Hood River Valley boys soccer team this year.
The Eagles thrashed Rex Putnam 6-1 Tuesday night to move into the state quarterfinal round.
The win avenges a shootout loss to the Kingsmen in the first round of last year’s state playoffs and gets them through the first round of state playoffs for the first time since 2008.
After the game current HRV coach Jaime Rivera and former Eagles coach Doug Beveridge chatted with each other about that game, an overtime loss to Lake Oswego.
The Eagles have added incentive to get past the quarterfinals this year.
Looming across the other side of the bracket is Woodburn, a team the Eagles badly wants another shot at after rallying to force a 3-3 draw in Woodburn earlier this season.
“We want to take it right to Woodburn,” said senior captain Sean Lund.
However, to get to a likely semifinal matchup with Woodburn, the Eagles will have to get through the Wilsonville Wildcats today.
The win over the Kingsmen allowed the Eagles to purge the ghosts of their first-round loss at home to the Kingsmen last year and showed what the team is capable of when it is firing on all cylinders.
“We wanted to control the ball, pass it around and not be in a hurry,” said Jaime Frias, who scored two of the Eagles’ six goals.
The Kingsmen had no chance against a tenacious Hood River Valley offense, which attacked early and often and had no qualms about pouring it on in the second half to put the game out of reach.
The Eagles opened the scoring in the 15th minute when Edgar Villegas blasted a 20-yard rocket into the back of the net.
Frias doubled the lead in the 30th minute with a goal.
The second strike seemed to wake up the Rex Putnam offense, which began pushing up the field toward the end of the half.
However, the HRV defense was ready and what attacks the defenders could not turn back, Eagle goalkeeper Alfonso Mendiola was prepared for and made several of his six saves toward the end of the half.
In the closing minute of the first half Frias struck again, getting behind the Putnam defense, juking the keeper and then slotting a shot to the back of the net for a comfortable 3-0 lead at the half.
“We wanted to go up early and score some goals in the first half to get them on their heels,” said HRV coach Jaime Rivera.
Putnam nearly cut into the margin seconds into the half when Mendiola had to punch a corner kick over the bar, but Putnam never again seriously threatened to get back in the game.
The end result was never in doubt after the 45th minute when Villegas added his second score of the game on a shot off the far post.
“I can’t say enough about their determination and play tonight,” Rivera said of forwards Villegas and Frias.
Later in the half Fabian Munoz and Sean Lund would both add goals for the Eagles.
Putnam scored in the 70th minute to avoid the shutout, but had no chance at a comeback.
“We knew this team really had a lot of potential and this game has been hard for us to get over,” Lund said. “We knew we could do it; just to prove it to ourselves was what we needed to do.”
The Eagles made back-to-back trips to the state quarterfinals in 2007 and 2008, but had to play both of those games on the road.
Getting to host Wilsonville at home makes a huge difference Rivera said.
“It means everything we get to have our crowd here and our families … it’s going to be good to have that support,” Rivera.
Wilsonville will be a significant test for the Eagles.
The Wildcats finished the season No. 5 in the OSAA 5A rankings, one spot behind HRV.
Like the Eagles, they played a tough non-league schedule against some of the top teams in the state.
While the Eagles beat Putnam twice this season, the Wildcats lost to the Kingsmen 2-1 on Oct. 23.
“We have to play each game like a championship game,” Lund said. “And then we’ll see how far we can get.”