Friday, September 9, 2011
The Hood River Valley girls soccer team has a good problem.
Coach Kevin Haspela has so many good players he's not sure what to do with them all.
"They are all approaching it with a team responsibility," Haspela said. "No one knows who is playing where yet."
The Eagles are loaded with talent across all experience levels.
The likely starting roster includes a freshman, a sophomore, a big group of talented juniors and a solid core of experienced seniors.
The Eagles lost Columbia River Conference Player of the Year Emily Ing and some key pieces on defense, but many key players from last year's state playoff team return.
"We have a nice balance of offense and defense," Haspela said.
Senior Roxy Gomez perfectly illustrates the nice dilemma they find themselves in.
She is a capable scorer, but also proved to be a good defender during her time on the Eagles back line. The Eagles have plenty of goal scorers with sophomore forward Miga McCurdy, junior midfielder-forward Kristin Lago and senior midfielder Emily Thompson.
Meanwhile, the Eagles will be breaking in some new varsity defenders on either side of senior Skye Windsor in the defense. That means Gomez will likely start the season in the defensive half again, but could be moved forward as the season progresses.
HRV has enough seniors to fill nearly a whole team, with Katie White, Sarah Clark, Meredith Virk and Hannah Young all joining Thompson in the midfield, and Jessica Sedano and Kirra Paulus joining Windsor on defense.
Haspela has all his bases covered for whatever arises, listing Gomez as a forward/midfielder/defender on the team's roster.
If he needs to boost the defense, he can always throw one of his two capable defenders in at goalkeeper. Senior Megan Winans and junior Dominique Figueroa both saw time in goal for HRV last year, and both played well. Instead of designating one the starter over the other, Haspela said they will both see plenty of time this year as well, and whoever is not in goal in any particular game could very well see time on the field.
"They are doing a great job of competing and supporting each other," Haspela said.
That depth will enable the Eagles to move defenders like Windsor and Gomez forward to add to the offensive firepower.
The Eagles struggled to find the net early last season, being outscored 15-4 in their first five games and going 04-1 before finding their scoring touch with a 9-0 blowout over Madison and a 6-0 win over Woodburn. That helped propel the Eagles to a 5-0-1 record in league and the conference championship.
This year the non-league schedule does not figure to do the Eagles any favors. They open with three games on the road.
They open against a Putnam team which beat them last year and won nine games, and then take on 6A Lakeridge which finished second in the highly competitive Three Rivers League.
HRV doesn't figure on starting slow again this year and has a simple plan to keep it from happening: Just keep shooting.
"We can trust anyone we pass the ball to," Thompson said.
"We are focused on relaxing with the ball and setting ourselves up for shots," Windsor said.
The tough non-league slate and slew of talent figures to make the Eagles the odds-on favorites to win the CRC again this season.
If they can achieve that, the Eagles want to build on their state playoff appearance, where the lost 5-0 at North Eugene in the first round.
"We want to get farther in the playoffs," Windsor said.
To get there, they will be counting on every member of the team to score goals, or stop them, whenever or wherever they are needed.
"We are not going to depend on just one or two girls," Gomez said. "We are depending on the whole team."
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Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest 2016
Kiteboarders in action during the pro competition Friday at the 16th Annual Bridge of the Gods Kite Fest in Stevenson. All photos by Ben Mitchell. Enlarge