HERMISTON — Not even a win against Pendleton on the last day of the season Tuesday would lift Hermiston above Hood River Valley for sole possession of the Columbia River Conference championship. But that didn’t stop the Bulldog girls from blasting the Bucks like the match counted for more than one win.
The Bulldogs (8-4-2, 5-1 CRC) caught fire early and stayed lit throughout the soccer match at Armand Larive Middle School in Hermiston to scorch Pendleton 8-0. The victory, coupled with a Hood River (6-5-1, 5-1 CRC) win over The Dalles Wahtonka also on Tuesday, means the two teams share the CRC crown with matching 5-1 records in conference play.
“It feels good coming into a new league being a first-time head coach,” she said about the shared title. “But at the same time, that one time you don’t come out and people have an off game... It happens though, everyone has an off game and unfortunately it’s kind of taken us down a little bit. We’re recovering from it and playoffs now are what really matters.”
To get to the postseason, Hermiston had to first take care of business against Pendleton (0-4-2, 6-6-2 CRC) on Tuesday. And the Bulldogs got busy quickly.
Midfielder Maggie Coleman banged in a goal off of a loose corner kick in the 10th minute before adding another just seven minutes later. Her second of what would become a four-goal night for the senior came from more than 30 yards out, was high and arcing and dropped in just above the Pendleton keeper’s head.
Coleman’s third and fourth goals, the final on a 20-yard free kick, both were strikes from distance as well that evaded the arms of McKenzie Sherman, the Buckaroo keeper.
“Usually the keeper can see them but I think the lights affected her,” Coleman said of her trio from long range. “Usually I do field goals but they weren’t field goals today.”
The Buckaroos were playing passive defense, guarding the net. So when Coleman was left alone, she took aim.
“If they’re going to give me the space, I might as well,” Coleman said.
That was something Pendleton coach Rocky Dillenburg hoped to shore up after halftime with his squad already down 5-0. It wasn’t hard to pick up on Hermiston’s plan, but the Bucks struggled to combat it.
“We knew that we needed to have immediate pressure on the ball anytime it was in our defensive third and we just weren’t doing that (Tuesday),” Dillenburg said. “Because that’s what their game is. They’ve got some kids that can hit the ball hard and hit it long.”
Hermiston’s Lollo Jansson added a pair of second-half goals after Megan James and Daryan Lewis had also scored for the Bulldogs.
Pendleton recorded one shot on goal to Hermiston’s 12, meaning Sherman did pick up four saves in net.
Hermiston will likely get a home match either Friday or Saturday in the Class 5A play-in round as the No. 11 team in the state. Both coach MacBride and Coleman are hoping for a Friday contest with the latter set to race at the state cross country championships in Eugene on Saturday.
“Oh, it’s stressful,” Coleman said under uneasy laughter. “We’ll figure it out because I still have another game and hopefully it’s not on Saturday.”
Pendleton’s fate is even less certain. As of Tuesday night, the Bucks were inside the Top 24 for state play-in placing, but the rankings aren’t set to freeze until tonight at midnight. The Bucks could move up or down from their current No. 22 spot as other games go final throughout the state.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at email@example.com or 541-966-0839.