PENDLETON — After a long night of football on Friday, the Round-Up Grounds will get a healthy dose of futbol on Saturday.
The Pendleton soccer teams will host Umatilla in a pair of endowment matches inside the historic Round-Up Arena this weekend. A late add to the season slate for the Bucks, the girls will play at 6 p.m. with the boys following at 7:30 p.m. under the lights in non-conference action.
“It’s fun to have a night just for soccer in Pendleton,” said Jerome, in his first year as AD with the district. “Hopefully we get some of the youth kids to watch there and be a part of that too.”
Safety was the main concern in deciding to move forward with the games. As long as the grass remained in decent condition following a night of gridiron action — in this case the Mountain View-Pendleton football game Friday night — the coaches were all on board. The field may be a little rough, but in no way dangerous, Pendleton boys’ coach Rob Hillmick said.
“Granted, I haven’t been on that field since my youth football team played there years ago so I don’t know what it’ll be like for soccer,” Hillmick said laughing.
The Round-Up’s turf, chewed and worn by the rodeo and a few football games, is still likely more inviting than the field at Grecian Heights Park where the Pendleton teams practice, patchy and uneven grass that has marred its share of ankles.
That being said, the teams will need to do some adjusting to the field, Hillmick said.
The Bucks’ surfaces for matches have ranged from the futuristic — artificial turf at Barlow High — to the ordinary like the public parks at Madison and the seemingly untrimmed grass in Umatilla. So Pendleton soccer is well trained to adjust to the roll with the punches of a field already, Hillmick said.
The Pendleton girls will get a jump on the boys team in picking up the play of the Round-Up grass. The Lady Bucks (4-1) will also host Hood River Valley (1-4-1) in both teams’ first Columbia River Conference match today at 4 p.m. inside the arena.
When the action gets under way Saturday, the Pendleton girls will hope to recreate the outcome of their match against the Vikings (2-5, 2-1 Eastern Oregon League) from two weeks ago. The Lady Bucks shut out Umatilla 4-0 in that meeting, their second win in a current three-match streak.
Pendleton has only allowed five goals on the season, with four coming in a loss to La Grande, the fourth-ranked team at the Class 4A level. Umatilla had won two straight league matches via shutout after falling to the Bucks on Sept. 20, but Westside Christian snapped that little run last Friday with a 4-0 victory.
Following the completion of the girls’ match, the Buckaroo (1-3-1) boys will get a Vikings (3-2, 2-1 EOL) team that bested them 2-1 on Sept. 27 in Umatilla. After starting the season with seven goals in two games, the Bucks have dropped back to the kind of scoring pace they saw last season when they scored less than a goal per game. Pendleton has now lost three straight while netting only two shots.
Regardless of which match is playing out on the field, the atmosphere will be much different than the usual Pendleton home game. The Bucks, who play their home contests behind Blue Mountain Community College in “The Pit”, aren’t used to many people watching from the stands — or really stands at all.
“I don’t know if people just don’t know if there’s a field here or what but we don’t get a lot of fans at our games that are at BMCC,” said Brad Kennison, a senior defender for the boys’ team. “It’d be nice to have even half of what the football games get. Yeah, I’m hopeful.”
Contact AJ Mazzolini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839.