Before Thursday’s marquee boys’ soccer matchup between HRV and Woodburn, the Eagles went on the road to Pendleton and beat the Buckaroos 9-0.
This game opened league play for both teams, but more importantly, it signaled that a big test was on the horizon for the Eagles.
“Traveling to Pendleton was not necessarily a good warm-up before a tough Woodburn team,” said Head Coach Jaime Rivera. “However, it did give us an opportunity to work on some principles like spreading the field to create space for our midfielders, counterattacking with quick penetrating passes, and finishing on goal heading into Thursday’s big game.”
Preparation for the highly anticipated matchup would instead happen on Wednesday as the Eagles’ “held quick meetings before and after practice that were focused around how to handle the spotlight against Woodburn,” Rivera said. “Topics included how to be mentally tough in the heat of battle, how to control our body language from the moment we step onto the field, and how to focus on the elements of the game that we can control.”
The ongoing clash between the Eagles and Bulldogs goes back to 2013 after an intense playoff match that decided who would play for the 5A state title. The Eagles would win 3-1. The next year they would meet again, this time in the state title game. The Eagles went on to win that game 2-0 and that would trigger the beginning of a rivalry that continues today.
“Both teams have always brought out the best in each other and that was no different this time around,” Rivera said. “It isn’t that other teams don’t challenge us, but there is something special about how we each play for our community’s pride – that’s what gives this match extra meaning.”
One of the more intriguing rivalries in the state continued to live up to expectations this year as some of the best high school soccer was showcased alongside of passion and pride on the field Thursday night at Henderson Stadium.
The Eagles (5-2) would beat the Bulldogs (5-1) 2-0.
HRV came out at the start of the game slow, especially in the first 10 minutes of play.
Woodburn often had the ball on the attack and the Eagles’ defense was constantly on their heels.
With the help of two saves by senior goalkeeper Alejandro Rodriguez, HRV outlasted the pressure from Woodburn early on.
Eventually the Eagles would counter the Woodburn attack in the 19th minute.
A through ball from Domingo Barragan was placed perfectly in the open field for his fellow striker Westley Carter to make a quick move and get a shot at goal. Carter would finish the play and put HRV up 1-0 midway in the first half.
With only a minute remaining in the half, Woodburn went down field and took a clean shot inside the box at Rodriguez’s goal, but it would hit the crossbar. Saved by the post, the Eagles’ would go into halftime up a score.
After a physical first half with a lot of chatter between the two teams on the field, the exhaustion physically and mentally could be seen on both sides as players were covered in grass stains and most could be found regrouping by themselves as they mentally prepared for a second half that would be much like the first.
The jawing between the two teams continued, as a third yellow card was assessed in this game at the beginning of the second half, the second for HRV.
Still a 1-0 game, the Eagles broke free once again.
Barragan, who received the ball from a stop on defense, pushed it up field and hit a running Carter in stride with a through ball.
Carter buried another ball behind Woodburn’s goalie in the 51st minute, putting the Eagles up 2-0.
Seconds later, the Eagles almost put up another goal, yet again off another Barragan assist, but this time to Jack McCaffrey, who missed a tough shot at goal by feet from the left side of the box.
As the game went on, the Eagles would finish the job off and beat a Woodburn team that came to Hood River undefeated.
After the game, Rivera explained that he felt this was the best defensive showing his team had all year. “In my opinion, when our strikers and midfielders put that amount of putting pressure on the opponent's back line there will be no team in the state that can beat us,” said Rivera. “The top teams around the state will take note of our shutout Thursday night, that is for sure. Woodburn has won four out of the last seven state championships. Anytime you take a team like that down, it will beef up your pedigree.”
Saul Chavarria, one of three team captains on this roster, plans to enjoy this victory with his team for a couple days, but knows, “it’s not over yet,” and went on to add that this win, “Is just the beginning.”
The Eagles are now 4-0-1 against Woodburn since 2013, this includes playoff games.
Looking ahead to next week, the Eagles will play a home game at Westside Elementary against Hermiston (6-3).
Hermiston is coming off a 3-1 home win over The Dalles, putting them at 1-0 in league play.
Kickoff for this game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Following this game HRV travels to Franklin on Oct. 7.