Photo by Ray Rodriguez
The Dalles soccer players, pictured from left to right, Anthony Mora, Jake Roetcisoender and Aldo Manzo surround St. Helens forward Conner Nett during Thursday’s non-league match played at Discovery Field. The Riverhawks ended a five-match losing streak with a 3-1 win.
As of Saturday, September 24, 2016
The Dalles has been steadily progressing, knocking on victory’s door in their past two soccer matches.
Thursday, they finally broke through with three unanswered goals to capture a 3-1 win over St. Helens in a non-league contest played at Discovery Field in The Dalles.
“It’s great, especially for the team’s confidence right now,” said TD head coach Matthew Dallman. “We were in a tough stretch there where we were learning a lot of lessons where we were going, but it feels great to finally knock the wall to down.”
TD fell behind early after giving up a goal in the seventh minute, as St. Helens midfielder Greg Maywald hit a shot past TD goalkeeper Jonatan Urenda.
But, just six minutes later, TD senior midfielder Omar Rodriguez set up Aldo Manzo to tie the score at one- apiece.
Over the next 20 minutes, the Riverhawks, who were going against the wind, created a couple of chances and withstood some offensive setups from St. Helens.
At the 33-minute mark, the Hawks put the pressure on St. Helens down on the wing, with Jack Bonham and Pedro Ayala using their speed to open up some lanes in the penalty area.
Ayala made a cross pass to Alejandro Gutierrez, and the senior trapped the pass, dribbled past a trio of Lion defenders and tapped his short past goalkeeper Jacob Hawkins to give TD a 2-1 lead.
“In the first half, we were going into the sun and into the wind, it was tough,” Dallman said. “We were pretty much trying to weather the storm coming into the second half, so getting that second goal was huge. It gave us some breathing room, gave the guys a lot of confidence and you could see it in the way they came out in the second half.”
From the opening whistle of the second stanza, the Riverhawks stole a clearing pass and went on a counterattack with Abraham Garibay leading the charge.
The sophomore scooped up the loose ball and created some room with his dribbling, firing a shot inside the right post for an insurance marker that gave TD a 3-1 cushion.
“It was just winning the ball in more dangerous positions that made all of the difference for us,” Dallman said. “I think our pressure from the midfielders and forwards was fantastic, especially on the third goal. We pressured them right off the kickoff, they gave up the ball and we scored five seconds later.”
In the past two games leading up to Thursday, the Riverhawk defense had allowed 2.5 goals a game and with the play of Rodriguez and the rest of the defense, it has allowed the midfielders and forwards a chance to develop more scoring opportunities.
“It is a lot easier to play defense when we have a lead because since our passing has improved, we have opened up a lot more and that creates passing lanes across the middle of the field,” Rodriguez said. “When you have a through-ball from our end go ahead to the midfielders or forwards, they can attack and get some easier goals.”
Now Dallman and his team have a new challenge put before them in the very competitive Columbia River Conference and stout teams such as Hood River Valley, Hermiston and Pendleton.
All three of those teams have amassed a combined record of 13-4-3 and undefeated Hood River (6-0-1 overall) is currently ranked first in the 5A class, while Hermiston is ranked fifth.
The Dalles is hoping to use this win over St. Helens as a springboard.
“We are hitting our stride at the perfect time,” Dallman said. “You want to be playing well right before the first game of conference because there are not going to be any easy teams.”
From what he’s seen and heard, Dallman said Hermiston looks very strong and defending state champion Hood River Valley is going to be tough.
“For us, we are just going to continue to work on the things that we know we can get better at and keep doing the things that make us a successful team,” Dallman said. “It is all preparation and working hard to better ourselves for the first game of conference.”
The Riverhawks (2-5) host Hermiston (6-1-1) at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.