They’ve won two state titles in as many years and haven’t lost a game since 2013, but this year’s HRV boys soccer team isn’t taking anything for granted as they aim for a third-straight 5A championship.
Heavy lies the head that wears the crown, as the saying goes, and plenty of other 5A teams such as Hillsboro, Wilsonville, Summit, and Woodburn — three of which HRV has met in the finals the last three seasons — will be looking to take aim at the large target on the Eagles’ collective backs. Jaime Rivera, returning in his seventh year as head coach of the varsity program, said the team is aware of that weight, but it is more focused on the task at hand.
“We know we are defending the state championship title, but we do not let that distract us from our mission of competing to the best of our ability day in and day out,” Rivera said, who was named the Northwest Section Coach of the Year at the end of last season by the National Federation of High Schools. Outside of the state championship, Rivera said his team’s goals are to “build trust, camaraderie, and to give our best effort in class and on the field.”
The team lost some key players this season due to graduation, namely goalkeeper Marco Cuevas and attack Andres Baeza, but as usual, Rivera has plenty of talent at his disposal.
“Key players will be all of them, seriously,” he remarked. “Whether a starter, substitute, or reserve, all my players will need to give their best effort and have winning attitudes in their roles in order for us to be successful.”
Noe Magaña, an attack, will likely be the biggest playmaker for HRV this season. The senior was named 5A Player of the Year after the 2015 season and was recently named by USA Today as one of the top male high school soccer players in the nation. Travis Running, who saw some time in net last year as Cuevas’ backup, will be the Eagles’ starting keeper this season. Of the 23 players on the varsity squad, 15 are seniors, many of whom had varsity playing time last year.
Magaña was a big factor in HRV’s opening contest this season, scoring a hat trick against the 4A McLoughlin Pioneers (0-3), whom the Eagles defeated 5-1. Sophomore Robby Running, who saw some varsity playing time in the latter half of the 2015 season as a freshman, rounded out the scoring with a pair of goals. Travis Running was busy enough in net despite the lopsided match, recording six saves.
The Eagles were scheduled to play Hillsboro on the road Tuesday (results not available at press time). The game is a rematch of the 2015 5A semifinals, which saw HRV overcome a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Spartans 4-3 to advance to the state championship. HRV then hosts 6A Franklin High (1-0-1) at Westside Elementary Thursday at 4:30 p.m.