Photo by Ben Mitchell
HRV girls soccer had a great match against Hermiston on Tuesday, defeating the Bulldogs 3-1. In the above photo, Claire Davies (No. 13) celebrates with her teammates after scoring a goal in the match with Hermiston.
After a pair of losses right before the start of the league schedule, the HRV girls soccer team has been on a roll lately, scoring 15 goals over the past three games, while only giving up one. The team just scored its second league win of the season, defeating Hermiston (4-6, 1-1 Columbia River Conference) 3-1 and currently sits atop the CRC standings — a league the team has dominated the past several years.
The last two years, however, HRV (7-3, 2-0) has failed to advance past the quarterfinals in the postseason, stymied by Summit in 2015 and Rex Putnam the year before that. Both opposing teams were ranked first overall in 5A.
A handful of players on this year’s varsity roster were on the team in 2015 and 2014 during those frustrating quarterfinal losses, and they haven’t forgotten those games. That includes Yahairra “Yaya” Chavarria, a senior defender who captains the team with Claire Davies (junior, midfielder) and Vanessa Silva (senior, goalkeeper). The team is looking to wrap up the CRC for the seventh consecutive season and make a deeper run in the playoffs, and Chavarria, who has the perspective of three seasons with the varsity team, says improving communication has been key to the team’s success thus far this season. It will be even more important if the team is to get over the quarterfinal hump.
“We probably need more communicating, like, who’s going to step to the ball, who’s got cover, trusting each other on the field and off the field too. It’s just communication that I feel we should be working on and we’ll be pretty good,” she said following her team’s defeat of Hermiston. “Once we know how to communicate, how to trust each other, and how to be more creative with the ball, I feel like we could get past the quarterfinals... This year, I feel like we’ve been able to connect quicker than in past years.”
Hermiston at HRV
13th minute: Mona Diaz
45th minute: Audrey Marble
51st minute: Claire Davies
Vanessa Silva: 5 saves, 80 minutes
Chavarria added that as a captain, she’s been working on communication too.
“It’s something different,” she said of her role this year. “I’m usually the quiet one on the team. I’ve been working on communicating and I feel like it’s helped on the field and off the field at school too... I’ve been liking it.”
That team dynamic has proven particularly effective on offense this season — with 44 goals, HRV is the highest scoring team in 5A.
“The team is finding the back of the net this year,” said HRV Head Coach Kevin Haspela. “I would attribute this to excellent finishing by midfielders and forwards as well as a whole team approach to playing attack. When the attack starts from the defense, everyone is involved and we have more options to move the ball upfield.”
The defense has been more middle-of-the pack in 5A so far this year, marred by some early-season games where HRV lost a lot of goals. But the Eagles have recently made significant strides there as well. Over the first five games of the season, HRV gave up 11 goals. In the last five games, the Eagles were scored on a total of five times. Up 3-0 in the second half, the team nearly grabbed its third consecutive shutout Tuesday in Hood River against Hermiston until Silva came off her line to intercept a Bulldog attacker, who chipped the ball over the Eagles keeper’s head for the team’s only score of the night.
“We’ve been communicating on our defense, we’ve been trying new things and we’re finding our solid defense as the season goes on,” Chavarria noted.
While HRV still relies quite a bit on star striker Cielo Rivera, the Eagles are seeing other players step it up and contribute, particularly junior midfielder/forward Audrey Marble, who scored a hat trick in a span of five minutes against Pendleton last week and had a goal in the game against Hermiston.
“In general, I feel like everyone had a part of our win today, everyone had a part in each goal,” Chavarria said.
The team has a short trip to The Dalles (4-6, 1-1) Tuesday for a 4:30 p.m. game and then hosts the winless Buckaroos at Westside Elementary the same time Thursday.