BOARDMAN — Although the Pirates are no strangers to the OSAA boys soccer state playoffs, their first-round victory over De La Salle North Catholic was one that surprised even them.
On Wednesday evening, the Riverside Pirates knocked down a 7-2 home victory over the visiting Knights to take the first round of the 3A/2A/1A state tournament. The match saw the most goals the Lewis & Clark League’s fourth-ranked Knights have allowed all season.
“The score really surprised me,” Riverside sophomore forward Adair Rodriguez said. “(De La Salle) played hard, but we just gotta admit that we went harder.”
The Pirates, who are now enjoying an 11-match streak, wasted no time putting points on the board as Rodriguez and junior Gerardo Lopez both netted goals in the opening 10 minutes.
Junior Juan Reyna continued to keep Riverside out front with a goal in the 29th minute, and sophomore Cesar Vargas assisted Rodriguez in another score with just 2:08 left in the half.
The Knights could not connect with the net in the first 40 minutes of the contest as the Pirates held onto their 4-0 advantage by halftime.
“Everyone (on our team) wanted it,” Riverside head coach Jose Duenas said. “Everyone wanted to win, and nobody wanted to stay home.”
The Knights finally made contact with the net three minutes into the final half when sophomore forward Emanuel Montoya-Pena slipped a goal past Pirates keeper Jose Torres.
Knights senior keeper Jesus Meza-Murillo fended off two back-to-back Riverside shots on goal a minute later before Pirates senior Ulyses Lopez put one in the net in the 54th minute. Sophomore Erick Zavala scored another not three minutes later for a 6-1 lead.
“We played well,” Duenas said. “We had our little mistakes and (De La Salle) capitalized. They’re a great team. They reminded us of what our little weaknesses are and what we need to fix.”
Murillo suffered a knee injury defending the goal with just 9:36 left to play, but remained in play for the rest of the match. Lopez was walked off the field with his own knee injury two minutes later, and Knights senior forward Bereket Getachew scored De La Salle’s final goal of the night in the 73rd minute.
“They have key players,” Duenas said of the Knights. “The score shows it differently, but it was a back-and-forth game.”
With 4:57 remaining, Gerardo Lopez assisted senior Juan Frausto in Riverside’s final goal to seal the win and secure their trip to the second round of the state tournament.
“We played it hard,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve been working hard all year. We wanted to come out fast tonight.”
The Pirates will hit the road to Oregon Episcopal on Saturday, who they fell to 4-0 in their first match of the season. The Aardvarks are coming off a 9-0 first-round shutout over Cascade Christian.