After fighting their way up the OSAA’s playoffs bracket, the Riverside Pirates will be sailing home after a semifinal loss to the Oregon Episcopal Aardvarks on Tuesday. The Portland private school defeated the visiting Pirates 6-2.
Going in, the Riverside boys had their work cut out for them — Oregon Episcopal (14-1-1) is the 3A/2A/1A’s No. 1-ranked team.
Sophomore midfielder Gerardo Lopez scored for Riverside in the first half, but the Aardvarks kept the goals coming.
“(Oregon Episcopal) pushed themselves on shots and got lucky a lot,” said Pirates assistant coach Jose Duenas. “We were a little more timid. They went forward and played hard. There were times when we got lucky and scored, but there were more times where we missed.”
Junior midfielder Ulyses Lopez recorded a goal for the Pirates in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to swing the game back in Riverside’s favor. While their season ended on Oregon Episcopal’s field on Tuesday, their opponents will go on to the finals to face Catlin Gabel for the championship.
“It was a really beautiful day, but it didn’t match the quality of the game,” Duenas said.
Despite the disappointing loss, Duenas says his team’s success this season has surprised him.
“We made it through a lot this year,” he said. “Every team we encountered, every injury, grades, life — we worked through it all.”
Riverside had set out into this year’s playoffs to defend their 3A state title, but it was a daunting task after the loss of key players from last year’s roster. Duenas says that his younger players this year have worked hard to fill that gap.
“I’m proud of our freshmen,” he said. “They really stepped up into the leadership roles last year’s seniors left behind.”
The Pirates finished the season at No. 5 in the OSAA’s 3A/2A/1A Special District 6.