Originally published October 28, 2017 at midnight, updated October 28, 2017 at midnight
The HRV boys soccer team has won yet another Columbia River Conference title.
On Tuesday, senior night, the Eagles hosted The Dalles in a game that had many implications.
And with the Eagles beating The Dalles 3-1, it ensured HRV a CRC title and home field advantage through the State Championship Semifinals as they remain first in the OSAA 5A State rankings.
But any other scenario would’ve meant both trouble and concern heading into playoffs, something the team usually doesn’t feel this late in the season.
A loss would’ve gave Hermiston the rights to the CRC title and the Eagles would’ve dropped significantly in the OSAA ranking.
If a tie occurred, Hermiston would’ve needed to beat Pendleton Tuesday night — which they did 8-0 — and they would’ve won the CRC title and the Eagles would most likely drop in the OSAA rankings.
But the loss and tie scenarios can be thrown out the window, as the Eagles got the job done against The Dalles Tuesday night.
Early on in this matchup, however, it wasn’t pretty for HRV and those tie and loss scenarios were looking like more and more of a reality as the game went on.
Robby Running put the first score up on the board in the 15th minute, but outside of that long goal, the first half was a struggle for the Eagles.
“I was a bit worried early on,” said Head Coach Jaime Rivera. “We seemed to stray away from the game plan of moving the ball side-to-side; instead, we played too direct.”
And not executing the game plan resulted in a goal late in the half by The Dalles to tie the game at 1-1 heading into halftime.
During halftime, the senior night ceremony took place with 13 Eagles being honored: Alejandro Rodriguez, Jonathon Muñoz, Sam Newton, Erik Siekkinen, Saul Chavarria, Lodi Castillo, Miguel Solano, Reese Carroll, Jack McCaffrey, Westley Carter, Angel Sonato, Julian Magaña and Domingo Barragan.
And the boys came out after the ceremony fired up.
Minutes after the beginning of the second half, Running notched his second goal of the game to put the Eagles up 2-0 with 30 minutes remaining on the clock.
After his score, the Eagles continued to dominate The Dalles and fellow Eagle forward Barragan would cap off the victory with the final goal of the game in the 74th minute to give HRV a 3-1 victory, a CRC title and a number one OSAA ranking.
“For us, winning the title definitely gives us momentum heading into the playoffs because we outlasted our two rivals, The Dalles and Hermiston,” said Rivera. “A tie or loss would’ve been destructive to our team's psyche.”
Now the team moves forward and gears up for playoffs.
“It’s time to focus on what’s ahead and move forward,” said Rivera. “But we do not forget the lessons we have learned along the way.”
With the first round of the playoffs beginning Nov. 1, opponent and time yet to be determined, the final message Rivera leaves his team before they start their title run is simple: “Commit to the team, put the team before yourself, watch your body language and be mentally tough,” but more important than that, he said, is the question, “Do you have the desire?”
For updated information about playoff matchups, visit www.osaa.org.