Wednesday, November 7, 2001/lk
HRV's girls soccer team has taken on big challenges all season long, both on the field and off.
The Eagles had to face two of the state's top teams -- Central Catholic and Centennial -- in conference play, and then fight for their playoff lives until the last day of the regular season.
Since every game the past month has been a do-or-die scenario, the Eagles were already well-prepared for their first-round state playoff test against South Medford on Saturday.
But despite playing the Panthers tough in both halves, HRV's short state run came to an end with a 3-0 shutout.
"We ran into a big, physical team with good skills and a long-ball strategy," coach Sue Farro said of the Panthers, who went 12-2-1 this season.
"They took us out of our game early on because it wasn't a style we were used to seeing against finesse teams like Centennial and Central Catholic."
But the Eagles adjusted well on both ends and didn't allow the Panthers to completely shut them down. Acer Lopez played her usual high-intensity game on the front line, and was taken down more than once for her trouble.
Lisa Tedford and Jazzy Cohen also stepped up their games once South Medford figured out a way to neutralize Becca Meierbachtol.
"Their defenders were all over Becca," Farro said. "They obviously knew about her coming into the game and really didn't allow her to get anything going in the midfield."
Lindsay McClure, Jody Gates and Elie Meierbachtol all played solid on defense and kept the Panthers from running away with the game.
Farro said goalkeeper Meghan Merz and the defense kept the game close throughout, and the team was still in good spirits going into halftime down 2-0.
Once the pregame jitters had worn off, the Eagles were able to come out firing in the second half. They played right with the Panthers the entire second half and never backed down. But a low cross into the box at about the 20-minute mark sealed the Eagles' fate.
"This was a fast-paced game and they really pounded us on both ends of the field," Farro said. "But it was a positive experience for everyone. We"ll be more prepared for next year because now we know what these big games are like.
"Next year, the players will be able to handle the pressure better and hopefully apply the experience to other areas of their lives," she said.
The Eagles return seven starters next season, and hope to use this year's state tournament appearance as a foundation when trying to advance past the first round.