Hermiston, Umatilla girls soccer teams open seasons with a draw

<p>Umatilla's Megan Lorence, left, and Hermiston's Alysia Garcia, collide after they both tried to gain possession of the ball during the teams' season opener Thursday at Kennison Field. The teams tied, 1-1, in the non-league game. </p>

Although neither team could claim the victory, the Hermiston and Umatilla girls soccer coaches were both satisfied with their players’ performances in the 1-1 draw Thursday afternoon at Kennison Field.

After a scoreless opening half, the Vikings actually struck first a little more than midway through the second, when freshman Celeste Rodriguez ended the stalemate and gave her team a 1-0 lead with 15:24 remaining on the clock.

Although the Vikings did their best to claim the win by fending off the Bulldogs’ rally, Hermiston junior forward Tyra Carter sent the ball sailing into the net with a little less than eight minutes remaining to knot the score. Up until that point, Umatilla senior goalkeeper Anabel Moreno had a flawless game, making several nice saves to keep the Bulldogs off the board.

“She was on,” Viking coach Tim Lee said of Moreno’s performance.

Even more thrilling to him was the fact the Vikings played so well despite missing players. Lee said one or two players had earlier injuries and a couple were unable to become eligible in time to compete in the game. In fact, he said, many of the players on the field Thursday were player in either their first varsity or first high school contest.

“We played a lot of fresh faces,” Lee said. “So I’m very proud of their performance.”

He said the Vikings will need another week or two before its back at full strength, and the majority of the focus at practice in the mean time will be working as a team and making clean passes.

“I think we’ll see a lot more confidence in every facet of the game,” Lee said.

Likewise, Hermiston head coach Danielle Turner said the Bulldogs will continue to work on passing and getting stronger, but she expects her team to score a lot of goals this year.

“The first game’s always a little sketchy,” she said.

Turner said the girls did everything asked of them in Thursday’s match, and good teamwork resulted in a score late in the game, so she was satisfied.

“We’ve got to start somewhere, and it was a good start for us,” she said. “I’m hoping it’s going to build momentum going into Tuesday.”

Turner said it would be great if the Bulldogs could carry their strong start into next week, when they will take on Forest Grove at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Kennison Field.

The Vikings will next take the field at 4 p.m. Sept. 16 in La Grande.

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