Ben's Babbles: Sudden endings, new beginnings

November 12, 2011

And just like that it's over.

Thursday was a thrilling, heartbreaking night for Hood River soccer fans.

The Hood River Valley boys lost in extra penalty kicks and the HRV girls lost in the waning moments of the second overtime at Crescent Valley.

One day both teams are talking about their hopes for a run into the state tournament - the next, the fall sports season has come to a sudden halt.

Every team starts its season with the goal of winning a championship. But at the end of the season only one team will be raising the championship banner.

In the moments after a tough loss, all of the highlights from a season are somehow no longer important; the only thing that matters is the loss.

But as seemingly every high school or college yearbook says: It's not the destination that matters; it's the journey.

For the four HRV teams that reached state this season, it was quite a journey.

The HRV girls soccer team started the season 0-6 and the casual observer could have been forgiven for thinking they were cooked. But then their offense got going and they rolled off five straight wins, including an upset of then-No. 4 ranked Hermiston in Hermiston and won the conference title on the final day of the season.

Meanwhile, the HRV boys played one of the most brutal non-conference schedules imaginable, playing the No. 1 and 3 teams in the state in 5A and the No. 2 team in 6A. They lost several of their best players at midseason and despite that went undefeated in conference play and split the conference title with Hermiston.

In the play-in game they got the mother of all heroic performances from Josue Barrera, as the senior scored his first two goals of the season in a span of three minutes to get the Eagles a comeback win.

The Eagle volleyball team, after not making the state playoffs from 1994-2009, made it for the second time in a row this season.

They made it to state with perhaps their most impressive win of the season, a 3-0 dismantling of Wilsonville.

The Hood River Valley cross country team only sent its girls team to state this year; the first time in my time in Hood River that they have send a team to state without at least one member of the opposite sex.

However, both the boys and girls teams are extremely young. Give these kids a few years and there may be another league championship or two coming Hood River's way.

Those are memories that should not be forgotten in the pain of a season-ending loss.

In a week or so many of the same kids who donned football helmets, soccer kits, volleyball knee pads and cross country shorts will again be competing in another sport, and preparing for the winter sports season.

It's one of the things I love about this community. The notion of the multi-sport athlete still exists.

And so in a few short weeks, another season will begin, and the kids will begin another season with a quest that begins - but unfortunately doesn't always end - with the hope of raising a championship banner.

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