PENDLETON — It’ll go down in the books as a tie, a 2-2 draw between the Pendleton and Umatilla boys in a soccer match. But that’s not what Rob Hillmick’s gut was telling him as he watched the final moments drain off the clock Saturday. Ties don’t feel that bad.
“Honestly and truly this kind of feels like a loss,” he said. “I mean we’ll get out of here with a tie, but you could see the way they were kicking the ball deep out of bounds there as soon as they scored that second goal. They were happy with a tie. They wanted to get out of here.”
A Umatilla (4-2-1) cross in the 71st minute resulted the the deepest, darkest valley in Pendleton midfielder Cesar Argueta’s polar night that also saw the senior tie the school’s career scoring mark.
With the Bucks up 2-1 at that point, the Vikings were throwing the kitchen sink at the net at that point and a shot from the right corner strayed into the box and over keeper Grant Banister’s head. Argueta lunged for the ball to knock it out. Instead he knocked it up and back and into the net.
“I just mistimed the jump,” he said. “I saw it coming and I was going to jump and head it out, but it was too late when I jumped. It went in our goal.”
Argueta’s teammates tried to console him following the game-tying goal. The senior hid his head in his shirt as he walked back toward midfield for the next possession, unable to face the scoreboard staring back at him.
For as low as Argueta felt in that moment with Umatilla beginning to run out the clock, he was on mountain tops earlier in the game. A Vikings’ foul in the goal box two minutes before the half gave Pendleton its best shot to get on the board to that point. The Bucks were trailing and Argueta felt his team needed a boost.
Argueta shot a ball to the lower-right corner of the net on a penalty kick, fooling Umatilla keeper Daniel Garcilazo on the play. The goal tied two things: the match at 1-1 and also the Pendleton scoring record. The goal was Argueta’s 16th on the varsity team.
“It changed everything,” he said. “The momentum switched to our side and from there we just started attacking.”
The Bucks would score right after the half on a corner kick by Hayden Whitbread. The ball entered the box from the left side and bounced around like a pinball, glancing off players for both sides. In the commotion, freshman Victor Garcia was able to bury a shot that gave his team the 2-1 advantage.
For as fast as the Bucks scored in the second half, it was Umatilla playing that role in the first. In the fifth minute, a 45-yard free kick caught Banister in the chest and the Pendleton keeper bobbled the ball back into play. Viking Diego Coria was there to knock it across the line.
“I knew that from when we played them the first time he kind of has slippery hand,” said Coria, referencing the Vikings’ 2-1 victory over the Bucks at home on Sept. 27. “So once he hit it I was like, ‘I’m going to go get it because it’s probably going to bounce off of him.’ ”
The goal wasn’t the only time the ball evaded Banister but it was the only one that made a mark on the scoreboard. The keeper, who finished with 12 saves, couldn’t handle another sharply hit ball that Coria went after in the second half. This time, Banister had backup. Defender Brad Kenison threw himself to his right in front of the open net with mostly just hope on his side.
Coria’s shot hit Kenison’s body, an island in front of a sea of mesh.
Both the Bucks and Vikings return to conference play next week. Columbia River Conference team Pendleton hosts The Dalles Wahtonka back at the Blue Mountain Community Conference field on Tuesday and Umatilla gets Riverside in a Eastern Oregon League match at home the following Tuesday, Oct. 16.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at email@example.com or 541-966-0839.