A win would have guaranteed at least a share of the Columbia River Conference championship, but on Thursday Rich Harshberger’s Hermiston Bulldogs had to settle for a tie and another week of waiting. A 2-2 draw with conference co-leaders Hood River Valley mean the Bulldogs’ next chance to clinch will come on Tuesday against Pendleton.
Hermiston (7-2-2, 3-0-2 CRC) continues to control its destiny as a win next week would leave them no worse than a tie for first, dependant on the Eagles’ own outcome against The Dalles Wahtonka.
The Bulldogs had their chances to turn the tie into a victory. They led 2-1 with less than 15 minutes to play before allowing the tying goal.
“It would have been better if it stayed 2-1, but I can’t complain too much,” Harshberger said. A tie was amenable, he added. A loss was not.
Once one goal scored, Harshberger said he wasn’t surprised another quickly followed.
“That’s what this team is capable of,” the coach said. “We’ve been a little down, fighting some injuries the last couple weeks. That was tough for us but (with players back) you can see what we do.”
One of those injured Bulldogs was Cadenas. He missed time in the last two weeks because of a sore left hamstring and still didn’t feel like himself in Thursday’s match.
“I’m still not 100 percent, like coach said, but I just try to give everything I can for the team and that’s what I did today,” said Cadenas, a forward who’s built more like a linebacker than a goal scorer. “I still can’t sprint. I was not comfortable at all like the first 10 minutes. I just had to deal with it and know I’m not going to be 100 percent for a while.”
The Bulldogs lead evaporated soon after when Sosa Salvador scored in the 67th minute.
Coming away with at least a tie was crucial, but if Hermiston fails to knock off the last-place Buckaroos (1-9-2, 0-5 CRC) then it will all be for naught. A conference title would mean at least two more games in Hermiston if the Bulldogs keep winning. And Hermiston has played noticeably better at home than on the road this year, Harshberger said.
“It’s not something we focus on, but obviously we’re playing a lot better at home,” he said.
“We dropped our intensity on that away stint, and it showed if you saw any of the results.”