Hood River Valley boys soccer juggernaut rolls into league competition

Continuing a trend from the last couple seasons, the HRV boys soccer team remains undefeated as it heads into its league schedule, after holding La Salle (2-2-2) to a 1-1 draw on the road Tuesday, then shutting out 6A Central Catholic (1-4-1) with a two-goal effort Thursday evening at Westside Elementary. The Eagles (6-0-1), the No. 1 team in 5A, will look to start their Columbia River Conference games with another win Tuesday at 4 p.m. in a match with Pendleton (1-3-1) at Westside Elementary.

“I feel really good,” Head Coach Jaime Rivera said about his team Thursday evening after the victory over the Rams, but added, “I want our team to play better soccer… if we play attacking soccer, then the goals our going to come. If we fall into the other team’s trap or take advantage of the time our space in front, I think we kind of neutralize ourselves.”

A small criticism from Rivera, who expects only the best from a team who has shown time and time again over the past couple seasons that they are the best. And while Rivera may want more goals from his team, HRV currently has the third-most prolific offense in 5A (21 goals).

Goals, however, weren’t easy to come by in HRV’s game at La Salle Tuesday, where, for the first time this season, the Eagles tied their opponent. It was also the first time this season that HRV ever got behind in a game.

La Salle opened up scoring in the 15th minute and the Eagles didn’t respond until the 30th minute, when striker Noe Magaña scored on a free kick for the final goal of the game. Both goalies went to work for the remaining 50 minutes, and Travis Running collected five saves to help keep the Eagles’ streak alive, along with an HRV attack that kept pressuring the Falcons.

“It was kind of hectic,” Rivera noted. “The other team was really energized and our guys were just trying to maintain their composure. I think they did a really good job.”

The tempo was vastly different Thursday on the pitch at Westside, where midfielder Jorge Campos and forward Domingo Barragan scored within the first 20 minutes to put the Rams on their heels. Central Catholic didn’t seem as interested in pressuring HRV as much as Rivera expected, which led to the Eagles focusing on simply keeping the ball away from Central Catholic as opposed to mounting an aggressive attack.

“I think we possessed the ball a little too well to be honest,” he said. “I think that’s what bogged us down is that when we switched the ball to open space, we were taking too long to move the ball forward to the goal.”

Running again started in net for HRV, earning his second clean sheet of the season, making four saves.

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