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Eagle soccer advances in state playoffs

HRV boys 2, Central 0; HRV girls 2, Wilsonville 1

Alex Gutierrez hits a bicycle kick in the first half. Although he didn’t score on this play, Gutierrez found the net twice to help the team to the win.

Photo by Adam Lapierre
Alex Gutierrez hits a bicycle kick in the first half. Although he didn’t score on this play, Gutierrez found the net twice to help the team to the win.

After hard-fought battle, HRV girls score in second overtime to defeat Wilsonville

After battling to a 1-1 tie in regulation time Tuesday night, the Hood River Valley Eagles and the Wilsonville Wildcats were given 20 more minutes (two ten-minute periods) of overtime to determine whose season would end on the field that night and whose would continue on to the 5A girls soccer quarterfinals this weekend.

What’s next?

Both HRV teams advance to state quarterfinal games, which they will play Saturday. The girls will travel to Putnam to take on the No. 1 seeded Kingsmen at 7 p.m. Putnam defeated Crater 4-0 on Tuesday in their first-round game.

The HRV boys host Mountain View High School Saturday, 2 p.m. at Henderson Community Stadium (HRVHS). Mountain View, the No. 10 seed, defeated Putnam 3-2 on Wednesday to advance.

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Despite three defenders in the way, Mona Diaz somehow scored on this play.

If it were a boxing match, Wilsonville would have won the first overtime; although no goals were scored, the Eagles were on their heels most of the period, with their defensive half taking the brunt of what had quickly developed into an extremely intense and physical game.

The second overtime, however, was all HRV, and the Eagles scored the knockout at the six-minute mark off a freekick play created by a drive into scoring territory by Sindy Magana. Cielo Rivera took the outside shot, which bounced around in the goalie box for a tense few seconds until freshman Claire Davies found an open angle from the inside right corner.

“It was pretty exciting, and exhausting,” coach Kevin Haspela said of the game. “That was the most intense game we’ve had all season. Both teams went one hundred percent the entire game – nobody backed off on either side. In the first overtime period we had our backs against the wall. But the girls held their composure and stayed focused.”

The win places the Eagles in the state quarterfinal round on Saturday against No. 1 seeded Putnam. As the higher seed, Putnam will host the game, 7 p.m. at its campus in Milwaukie.

Earlier in the game, with just a few minutes left in the first half, sophomore middie Mona Diaz put the first goal on the board with a similar inside scrap off a free kick from the left corner, again taken by Rivera. With several players from both teams packed into the goalie box, the ball bounced between bodies several times before Diaz was able to take a solid shot, which deflected off a Wilsonville player’s stomach and into the goal.

“We’ve been practicing free kicks and corners a lot,” Haspela said. “When we played Pendleton, we had 14 corner kicks, but didn’t score on any of them. I’ve been trying to get the girls to realize, once the ball is in the box like that, it’s theirs for the taking. They just have to see the opportunity.”

Wilsonville came into the game with momentum from a 7-1 beatdown they dished to The Dalles last Saturday in the play-in round. Haspela scouted the game to see what the Eagles would be up against. Prior to Tuesday, the Wildcats were on a six-game winning streak in which they managed four or more goals in each of those wins.

“We knew they had dribblers and speed.” he said. “This was the fastest team we have faced this season and we knew they would get through, so composure on defense was our main objective.”

With both teams going full-speed into every play and every loose ball, the game was not without its bumps and bruises. Anchoring the back line were defenders Sophie Grace, Kara Kiyokawa and Jenissa Ramirez, who all took a beating in keeping Wilsonville in check. Goalie Vanessa Silva also deserves recognition for her role in guarding the net, where she had a few key saves and played a huge role in clearing the ball out of scoring territory.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s game, Haspela said he’s excited to see how his team will compete against No. 1 seeded Putnam.

“I don’t mind the underdog status,” he said. “These girls have a lot of heart. If we stick to our plan and play our game, I think we have a good shot at beating them. It’s going to be an exciting game.”

Although his Eagles have claimed Columbia River Conference titles in each of Haspela’s five years as head coach, this year marks the first that the team has made it to the state quarterfinal round. If HRV wins Saturday, they’ll travel to face the winner of No. 5 LaSalle vs. No. 4 Summit on Nov. 11.

Alex Gutierrez scores two second-half goals to lead HRV boys in win over Central

The first half of Wednesday night’s match-up between the Hood River Valley Eagles and the Central Panthers is one coach Jaime Rivera and his players would rather forget.

Actually, no it’s not. In fact, as bad as the half may have seemed at the time, in hindsight it’s exactly what they needed.

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A large home crowd (top) is the backdrop for the HRV boys after scoring their first goal Wednesday in their 2-0 win over Central.

Central held HRV scoreless in the opening half of Wednesday’s game – the first round of the 5A boys state championships. As the No. 2 seed hosting the No. 15 seed, the undefeated Eagles were the heavy favorite, and after six straight blowout wins to sweep the Columbia River Conference, the team was quickly taken aback as Central effectively stymied their normally potent offense. Going into halftime scoreless – for just the second time all season – the Eagles were visibly discouraged, stunned even, by the fact that their opening game of the state tournament was not going at all the way they had envisioned.

“I think it was actually good for us to experience that,” said Alex Gutierrez, who gets credit for the both HRV goals in the 2-0 win. “We realized that the playoffs aren’t going to be easy. Every team is fighting for its life, and it made us realize we have to fight for every game like it’s our last.”

After pressing the reset button at halftime, the Eagles came out looking like a different team in the second. Sticking to their defensive-heavy strategy, Central was able to withstand several barrages on their back end, but with HRV back in its rhythm of stronghold defense and relentless high-speed attack, it was only a matter of time before they succumbed to the pressure.

Gutierrez scored his first of two goals at the 17-minute mark off an impressive diving deflection from Central goalie Erick Corrall, who gets credit for several key late-game saves that kept HRV from running up the score. Gutierrez’s second goal came about nine minutes later off an assist from junior captain Gio Magana.

“Thanks to my buddy Gio for that one,” Gutierrez said. “I was just in the right place, he did all the work on that goal.”

Operating at a higher speed than the other players, Magana blazed by three Central defenders before passing the ball at the last second to an incoming Gutierrez, who had an open look at the net.

“I saw the net, but I also saw Alex and he had a better angle than me so I decided to pass instead of shoot,” Magana said. “I play for the team; it doesn’t matter who scores, it’s all about the team.”

Magana’s take on the frustrated first half was similar to Gutierrez. “Yeah, I think it was good for us. It could be the same at our next game, so it was good to experience that now and learn from it.”

Looking a bit stunned during the first half, Coach Jaime Rivera breathed a sigh of relief after his boys got into a rhythm and took the lead. After the game, he offered the highest praise to his back line for holding up their end of the bargain all night.

“I was stunned by their (Central’s) heart and determination,” he said. “Our boys were just rock solid defensively. Hats off to our captain Uriel (Torres) for his leadership, to Joel Garcia for stepping into the mix at the last minute, to Danny Romero for overcoming adversity and for being a key component to our success and to the rest of the guys for shutting down their attack. Even though that first half was pretty ugly for us, our defense was still rock solid.”

Goalie Marcos Cuevas had relatively little contact with the ball all game, but was there when it mattered, including a huge diving save off a header with five minutes remaining that effectively sealed Central’s fate.

The win means the Eagles advance to the quarterfinal round, which will be played at HRVHS (Henderson Community Stadium) Saturday at 2 p.m. HRV will take on No. 10 seeded Mountain View, who defeated Putnam 3-2 on Wednesday. The winner of Saturday’s game will play the winner of Wilsonville vs. Hillsboro at the higher-seeded school’s home field. On the other side of the bracket, No. 1 Summit defeated Lebanon 10-0 in the opening round and hosts La Salle Prep Saturday. The winner of that game will play the winner of No. 5 Ashland at No. 4 Woodburn.



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