The Hermiston Bulldogs pulled off a first-round upset in the boys soccer playoffs Wednesday, beating No. 3 seed Hillsboro on the road.
In a heavily defensive game against the Spartans, but the Bulldogs had just enough left in the tank to grind out a 1-0 overtime victory.
There were a couple of early chances for Hermiston to get on the board, but the Bulldogs (10-3-3) just couldn’t execute the early opportunities.
The Spartans (11-4-1) brought high pressure, as Hermiston was expecting, but the defense and efforts of junior goalkeeper Juan Navarrete solidified the shutout.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the back line,” coach Rich Harshberger said, “and Juan’s shutout, which was huge, was a key to our victory.”
There was a goal scare late in the second half when Hillsboro out the ball in the net on a set piece, but the goal was called back as a Spartan was offside when he scored.
Other than that chance Hillsboro didn’t get a lot of quality attacks, Harshberger added, and the scoreless 80 minutes put the Round 1 game into overtime.
“We knew we just had to score,” Harshberger said.
And Joel Mendez did just that. Mendez has been a valuable part of Hermiston’s late season success, and proved once again he has the innate ability to find the goal.
After the ball had bounced around the front of the box, Mendez was able to send it into the back of the net. His score came in 84th minute.
Hermiston will now face Bend on Saturday in the quarterfinals.