HRV united

Trust, teamwork ingredients in Eagle soccer postseason success

The Parkrose Broncos stood little chance Tuesday evening against the steamrolling Hood River Valley Eagles varsity boys soccer team. Edgar Villegas struck first just 20 seconds into the game, bringing the home crowd to its feet and firing up the Eagles in what would end as a 7-1 pounding in the opening round of the 5A state championship.

Villegas went on to score three goals in the first half — his first hat trick of the season.

The Scoop:

HRV defeated Parkrose 7-1 Tuesday in Round 1. Round 2 vs. No. 5 Cleveland was played Friday, 6 p.m. at HRVHS. The winner of that game will advance to the quarterfinals to play the winner of Woodburn vs. Putnam. The state final will be Nov. 16.

“My strategy going into the game was to play their defenders back and whenever there was space, just take it,” said Villegas, a senior captain. “Their defenders were playing flat and left a lot of space to work off of; that’s how the goals came.”

Tuan Nguyen and Danny Romero scored one each in the first half as well, giving the 14-1-1 Eagles a 5-1 lead and coach Jaime Rivera an opportunity to rest his starting lineup and give his backup players some time on the field. Second-half goals came from juniors Jaime Frias and Alex Gutierrez, while sophomore midfielder Giovani Magana tallied three assists.

“Our strength right now is how confident we all are in each other,” Villegas said. “It comes down to trusting each other with the ball, and we’re doing that really well. What matters for us is getting the result, not who scores the goals.”

When you look at the numbers, as effective as the HRV offense has been (62 goals scored in 16 games), the defense deserves equal praise for allowing just 13 goals all season. The 62/13 ratio is second in 5A only to No. 1-ranked Woodburn, with 63/13.

“We’ve been playing together for a long time now, so we know each other and how we play really well,” said junior defensive captain Uriel Torres. “We have a strong bond this season; we communicate really well and all have each other’s backs out there.”

Torres, who plays sweeper in the team’s four-back formation, said the one goal Parkrose managed was when two defenders went for the same player and left someone else open in the middle. It’s a mistake, he says, they need to learn from so they don’t make it again in a more costly situation. Another potentially costly mistake came off an HRV foul in the box that gave Parkrose a penalty kick. Goalie Quique Rueda made a diving save to prevent the goal.

“He’s got our back, that’s for sure,” Torres said about Rueda.

The team also had several scoring opportunities called back due to offsides, which will prove much more costly in a tighter game.

Tuesday’s win advanced the Eagles to the quarterfinal round of the state tournament. With the higher seed (No. 4) the boys hosted No. 5-ranked Cleveland Friday night, 6 p.m. at HRVHS. The game hadn’t been played as of press time for this issue, but if last week’s exhibition game against the same team is any indication, it was likely an exciting battle. The Eagles won 3-2, but trailed much of the time and scored two late-game goals to take the win.

“That game gave us a chance to test our abilities against one of the best teams in the state,” Villegas said about the Cleveland win. “I can’t say being down like that was a good thing for us, but it was a positive learning experience because we kept our composure and came back to win it.”

The winner of Friday’s game will advance to the quarterfinals to play the winner of Saturday’s Woodburn (No. 1) vs. Putnam (No.8) matchup. If HRV and Woodburn win this week, it’ll mean a rematch of last season’s semifinal battle that ended 3-2 in favor of the Bulldogs, who went on to win the state championship. With a high seed, Woodburn would host the match.

“We’re playing one game at a time,” Villegas said. “Right now we’re focusing ourselves and the job we have against Cleveland. But I can say that if we get another shot at Woodburn, we’re definitely going to give it all we have.”

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