Richland may have shut out Hermiston, but it was a day of growth for the girls soccer team.

The top-ranked Bombers had previously shut out Hermiston 12-0 in their second match of the season earlier in the year, but on Saturday afternoon the Bulldogs held them to just four goals for a 4-0 Mid-Columbia Conference loss.

“It was a different team today,” Hermiston coach Freddy Guizar said. “Our girls stepped up. Richland’s midfield is talented and aggressive. We carried a momentum knowing that our girls can be competitive.”

Bulldogs senior keeper Lanie Gomez grabbed a pair of saves in the opening five minutes, but Richland remained relentless in their attack. Bombers junior midfielder Ashley Tonthat had two ensuing shots on goal before she assisted junior forward McKenna Martinez in the first goal of the match in the 11th minute.

Martinez returned 14 minutes later for another goal that flew just above Gomez’s reach.

“They played hard today,” Gomez said of Richland. “We knew what to expect from them. They didn’t play any better or worse (than the last time).”

Hermiston sophomore forward Jizzelle Gonzalez had a shot on goal after intercepting a Richland throw-in, but Bombers senior keeper Kyah Weikum was quick to get the save.

Tonthat drove the ball downfield, swerved Gomez’s attempted save, and notched her match’s second goal for a 3-0 lead in the 31st minute. Gomez dived to block Martinez from posting another goal, but junior forward Ellie Marsh evaded Gomez for Richland’s last goal of the match, and a 4-0 halftime advantage.

Martinez had another shot on goal in the first minute of the second half, but the ball soared over the goal post.

In the 60th minute, Hermiston junior midfielder Jayden Ray squared up for a goal, but Weikum continued to hold the Dawgs scoreless.

Ray missed a penalty kick with 14:47 left to play that would have put Hermiston on the board. Despite ending the day without a goal, the Bulldogs were able to keep the Bombers away from the net for the entirety of the second half.

“It’s been hard to get that connection and chemistry going,” Gomez said after the match, “but we made a lot of progress today. We’ve grown closer as a family. I don’t think (Richland) was expecting us to come out as hard as we did. We stepped it up and gave them a run for their money.”

With the win, the Bombers (6-1, 6-1 MCC) remain the No. 1 team in MCC action. Hermiston (1-7, 1-6 MCC) is ranked No. 8 in the league standings.

“They were a lot more organized today,” Richland coach Justin Almquist said. “Their competitive spirit was up. They gave us a better game.”

The Bulldogs were back on the road Tuesday night for a conference contest against the No. 2-ranked Chiawana Riverhawks, which started after the Hermiston Herald’s deadline.

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