File photos by Ben Mitchell
Captains Claire Davies, above, and Yaya Chavarria led the Eagles into their second game of the season on Sept. 12 against Reynolds.
Almost three weeks into the regular season for high school athletics and HRV’s girls soccer team finally played its first game last weekend.
Not only has this team not competed in a regular season matchup, the fires that have recently smothered the area have made even getting out on the field to practice difficult.
“Saturday was the first time we played on grass for eight days and after three days without practice due to smoke,” said Head Coach Kevin Haspela.
Weeks without any OSAA competition, while other teams across the state are already beginning to find their groove, and recent air quality concerns keeping the girls off the field in Hood River made Saturday’s match against West Albany much tougher than it had to be as the team came out “a little rusty,” Haspela said.
“We made West Albany look good with many turnovers, especially in the middle of the field,” said Haspela. “Credit to West Albany’s forwards, they were quick on the turf and on the counter attack, which kept our defensive line busy. Yaya Chavarria, our senior captain, saved us on several occasions.”
But Chavarria and this Eagles defense could only prevent West Albany from scoring for so long as the Bulldogs continued to keep the pressure on the Eagles side of the field and eventually broke through HRV’s defense.
In the 35th minute, Eagles junior goalkeeper Barrett Ihde saw a shot from the left side of the box from a Bulldog attacker and Ihde was able to get a hand on it, but couldn’t grip it and the ball found the back of the net, making it 1-0.
Continuing to struggle into the second half, the Eagles turned the ball over mid-way in the closing half and the Bulldogs converted HRV’s mistake into a counter attack. Claire Oswald, a senior goalkeeper who stepped in for Ihde in the second half, had a supporting cast struggling to get back off the turnover and the Bulldogs were able to make the right passes into gaps, giving them an open shot that got behind Oswald, 2-0.
At this point, the Eagles were just looking for something to go their way and following the second score of the game, they got their chance.
West Albany was called for a handball in the box, granting the Eagles a penalty kick. Claire Davies, another senior captain, stepped up for the penalty and with indications this game would be 2-1, the Bulldogs goalie was able to block Davies shot. Audrey Marble, senior midfielder and forward, was given the second penalty attempt but another correctly guessed dive by the Bulldog’s goalie prevented the Eagles from getting on the scoreboard and the game ended at 2-0.
“We got into flashes of rhythm and improved possession as the game went on,” said Haspela, “but couldn’t connect midfield and forwards to generate numbers up on attack.”
For Haspela, this is one area of concern he’ll continue to focus on improving with this group of girls as the season goes on. Knowing it’s a long season, “the players kept their heads up and they are excited to hone in on areas of improvement,” Haspela said.
Heading into this week, “I am going to experiment with some different formations assuming we play,” Haspela said.
The next game for the Eagles, if the air quality improves, will be Sept. 12 at Westside Elementary at 4:30 p.m. when they face the Reynolds Raiders, who dropped their first game of the season to Forest Grove by a score of 0-7.