Despite the fact that they were regarded as underdogs, the Hood River Valley Eagles were certainly hoping to get an upset win over the Wilsonville Wildcats in an OnPoint Community Credit Union OSAA Class 5A girls soccer first round state playoff game.
The No. 17 ranked Intermountain Conference co-champion Eagles (9-1 IMC, 9-6 overall) came into the matchup with the momentum of a four-game winning streak along with victories in nine of their last 10 contests. The Eagles would definitely need a confidence boost while facing their toughest opponent this year in the No. 3 ranked Wildcats (11-4-1).
The Eagles, guided by first-year head coach Amanda Orand and assistant Sindy Magana, played their hearts out and gave it everything they had. However, Wilsonville proved worthy of its high recognition while displaying a potent offense in a lopsided 8-0 win over Hood River Tuesday at Wilsonville High School.
“It was a challenge for us to play a high caliber team like Wilsonville,” said Orand. “It wasn’t the outcome that we wanted, but I’m proud of the way the girls carried themselves on the field. They left it all on the field, they gave a great effort and we battled against a very good team. I wouldn’t be surprised if they (Wildcats) went all the way to win the championship.”
The Eagles played the Northwest Oregon Conference Champion Wildcats evenly at the outset of the match, led by the senior trio of defenders Anai Solis, Sidney Becker and Gracie Meyers and they helped hold Wilsonville scoreless for the first six minutes. The Wildcats responded though by scoring in the seventh minute for a 1-0 edge.
“We had a really good season, we grew as a team and we were trusting each other more as the season went on,” said Becker. “We started playing with a higher confidence level as the season progressed and we had lots of fun. It was absolutely the best season of my soccer career.”
Wilsonville then followed seven minutes later with an offensive surge and put threw balls into the back of the net in a time span of four minutes and extended the lead to 4-0 in the 17th minute.
“It was such an exciting season and I was very happy to play on our team,” said Solis. “Everyone worked together well as a team to help us have a successful season.”
The Eagles suffered a huge blow in the 24th minute when junior goalkeeper Kyla Zorza sustained an injury and was unable to play for the remainder of the game. Sophomore keeper Alyssa Martinez ook over in goal.
HRV junior forward Vanesa Preciado had good scoring opportunities to try and get the Eagles on the scoreboard and avoid a shutout. Preciado delivered a solid shot from 30 yards on a free kick following a Wilsonville foul and Wildcat goalkeeper Kendall Taylor responded with a save in the 27th minute.
Four minutes later, Preciado had another scoring chance on a another free kick and she rocketed a hard shot at Taylor, who again snared the ball for an impressive save. Preciado led the Eagles in scoring this year with a total of 14 goals.
The Wildcats added three second half goals for the final 8-0 margin.
“At the beginning of the season, most of us didn’t really know each other very well and we didn’t know each other’s tendencies on the field,” said Myers. “I was proud of the way our team was able to grow as one unit. By the end of the season, we were working together pretty well to create goals. That didn’t happen to well for us today, but we had some great games during the regular season when we did that.”
The game marks the conclusion of their Hood River Valley soccer career for Solis, Becker, Myers and Silva Sankari.
“At the beginning of the season, we all had different skill levels and we didn’t play together too much prior to this year,” said Sankari. “It definitely took a little bit for us to bond and get comfortable with each other on and off the field. By the end of the season, we were definitely playing with good team chemistry. We learned a lot and we played together very well.”
For the Eagles, it was the sixth consecutive year that they advanced to the state playoffs.
“I’m thankful for the leadership that the seniors brought to our team,” said Orand. “They demonstrated their hard work by the way they played and we will definitely miss them. I am proud of the accomplishment our team had this year. I feel so fortunate to be able to coach this group.”