Saturday was a busy day in town for high school athletics. From a cross country meet to two soccer games and a volleyball match, Hermiston Bulldog fans could spend the entire day cheering on various teams — two of which played at Kennison Field on Saturday.
The girls and boys soccer teams welcomed Rex Putnam for games at noon and 2:15, respectively. After 160 minutes of total play, the Bulldogs finished the day 1-for-1. The girls lost 1-0 in a hard fought battle against the Kingmans in the first game, while the boys played aggressively to come away with a 2-1 win over Putnam.
Hermiston maintained possession early, taking over five shots on goal in the first 20 minutes. The Bulldogs’ (2-2) efforts were led by senior forward Hannah Thompson, who had yet another solid performance as one of the team’s most versatile players.
“Hannah can play anywhere on the field we want her to, and so game-to-game situation we like to use her in those places where she will have success,” assistant coach David Wattenburger said.
With head coach Danielle McBride absent due to illness, Wattenburger was at the helm for the girls fourth consecutive home game.
In the familiar scenery, the Bulldogs have slowly but surely built on the success of their first two wins despite Saturday’s outcome against the Kingsman (1-0).
“There were some things specifically we’ve been wanting to work on with connecting our offense and our defense with some central mid play, and I loved that [today],” Wattenburger said. “They did a great job connecting by playing as a unit.”
Hermiston held Putnam scoreless until the final 9.8 seconds of the first half when a shot bounced off the crossbar and then bounced off the head of a Kingsman to send the ball just over the hands of sophomore goalkeeper Lanie Gomez.
Putnam never relinquished its 0-1 lead despite giving Hermiston enough chances for the equalizer, and then some.
“If we could have finished a few of our chances close in that goal mouth area, we would have been in a completely different situation,” Wattenburger said.
When the boys took the field, the tables turned. The Bulldogs (3-1) were up against a tough defense, and hardly took any shots on goal the first 20 minutes. While the offense displayed good ball control and communication to start, it struggled to get anything going. It was nearly the end of the first half when the Bulldogs finally found the back of the net.
Junior forward Jorge Palacios landed one in to give Hermiston a 1-0 lead 26 seconds before halftime.
The Kingsman (0-2) held the Bulldogs to that loan goal, and after an aggressive start to the second half scored the equalizer after a controversial penalty in the box.
However, the 1-1 tie would last only seconds.
This time, a penalty kick on the other side of the field gave Hermiston its lead back.
Senior defender Esgar Avila placed his penalty kick just out of reach from Putnam’s junior goalkeeper Jesse Ensley. The Bulldogs maintained their lead for the remainder of the game, and will now travel to Hillsboro with momentum on their side.
“They responded well today, it’s not perfect but I’m very pleased with the result,” head coach Rich Harshberger said of the boys performance, and as far as the penalty kick exchange he noted how well the boys kept their focus.
“We didn’t hang our heads over it,” he continued. “We didn’t let it crush our spirit.”
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