The Eagles girls soccer team (5-4-1, 2-0 league) seems to have rebounded from its mid-season slump, evidenced by its strong start to Columbia River Conference play, which continued Tuesday with a 5-1 road victory over the Hermiston Bulldogs.
It was the highest-scoring game of the season for HRV and the most lopsided contest against their CRC rivals that Kevin Haspela could remember in his five years as HRV head coach.
“Really proud of them to be able to be prolific,” he said. “It felt great.”
The game quickly got out of hand for Hermiston, with HRV erupting with three goals in 12 minutes to start the first half. Junior defender Ami Santillan got things started for HRV in the fifth minute, with a high shot over Hermiston’s goalie that was assisted by Claire Davies and Yahaira Chavarria. Davies scored one of her own in the 11th minute, assisted by Jenissa Ramirez, and Cielo Rivera grabbed a loose ball in Hermiston’s end less than a minute later and added another score to make it 3-0, Hood River.
Hermiston couldn’t gain any momentum throughout the second part of the first half, and HRV added to its already prodigious lead in the 24th minute with an unassisted goal by midfielder/forward Sindy Magana to make it 4-0.
Although the first half was bereft of scoring chances for Hermiston, the Bulldogs seemed unfazed and turned up the intensity of the game.
“In the second half, it got a little bit more physical… you’ll always see that in a Hermiston game; they’re our rival,” Haspela explained.
Hermiston finally got on the board in the 65th minute off a counterattack and booted one from 30 yards out that was beyond the reach of HRV keeper Vanessa Silva.
“I think we shifted over too far to one side… (Hermiston) won a one-v.-one battle and took a nice long shot from 30 yards out that got over Vanessa,” Haspela explained. “Other than that, they didn’t get through other than one other time beyond that.”
Despite the three-goal lead, HRV wasn’t complacent in the second, and added a goal in the 69th minute, courtesy of Kassidy Davidson, with an assist by Mona Diaz to make it 5-1. Silva, who “didn’t have much action,” according to Haspela, recorded four saves.
Haspela was pleased with the way workhorse mentality of his team during the game, taking lessons they learned in practice and applying them in Tuesday’ game.
“After that Pendleton game (Sept. 29), we had all these shots, but not as many as we liked were on goal. We worked on that in practice… our shots were on goal more,” he said. “In terms of being thoughtful and careful in the box, we met our goals.”
Still, Haspela said he didn’t feel the 5-1 result accurately represented the tenor of the game, particularly with the way the second half played out. He cautioned that HRV needed to be vigilant despite controlling the game, because “a counterattack goal can happen at any time.” Haspela expected a tough matchup when the two teams meet again — this time in Hood River — on Oct. 21.
“I know they’re going to be ready to get back to us… it’ll be hard to beat the same team twice,” he said.
Next week, No. 11 HRV has two CRC games, hosting No. 29 The Dalles (3-6-1, 0-1-1 CRC) Tuesday at 4 p.m. and then travels to Pendleton to play the No. 20 Buckaroos (5-4-1, 1-1 CRC) Thursday at 4.