PENDLETON — Despite near-freezing temperatures, the Pendleton boys soccer team played their season’s hottest match to cap the year off.
On Thursday, the Intermountain Conference’s fourth-ranked Bucks (6-6-2, 5-4-1 IMC) toppled the top-ranked visiting Ridgeview Ravens (11-2, 8-2 IMC) in a 2-0 shutout, dropping the Ravens to No. 2 in the league and ending their season in spectacular fashion, exacting revenge after their 1-0 loss to the Ravens earlier in the year, and celebrating senior night for six players.
“We were hoping for the win and that we could match up with (Ridgeview),” Pendleton head coach Alex Erazo said. “We just wanted to finish the season off with a win. We wanted to send the seniors off right.”
The Bucks came out strong with a goal from junior midfielder Jamie Mendoza, who sent the ball soaring well over Ridgeview keeper Dalen Buckley-Noonan’s reach in the fourth minute.
Ravens sophomore midfielder Evan Newell attempted to pull even with a shot 13 seconds later, but the kick would pass just right of the net.
Pendleton senior keeper Andrew Wolotira knocked down three saves off of Ridgeview penalty kicks in the first half to keep the Ravens off the scoreboard.
“I think we knew going into it that if we played the game how we play it, we could win,” Wolotira said. “We knew it was going to be really hard. The guys were looking forward to it. We caught ‘em off guard.”
Nearly half an hour ticked by before senior forward Jon Lopez sunk a penalty kick to give the Bucks a 2-0 advantage going into the half.
“It felt like a bunch of weight was lifted off my shoulders,” Lopez said of his successful penalty kick. “We just rode that wave.”
The Ravens’ defense stiffened in the final 40 minutes, keeping the Bucks away from their net for the entire second half. Newell returned for two back-to-back shots on goal in the 52nd and 53rd minute, but Wolotira grabbed both saves.
Ravens sophomore midfielder Juan Pasquin sent a ball sailing toward Pendleton’s goal, but the ball flew over the net and Ridgeview would remain scoreless for the rest of the match.
Pendleton is the second team this season to hold the Ravens without a goal. Hood River Valley, who took over the top spot in the conference standings after Ridgeview’s loss, was the only other team to shut out the Ravens, handing them a 3-0 loss earlier in the year.
“We played with our hearts,” coach Erazo said. “I’m so proud of this group. They played with everything they had.”
With a win to end their season under their belts, Wolotira, Lopez, defender Michael Rodriguez, and forwards Evan Evans and Tyler Browning celebrated their final moments on their home field after the match. Mendoza, a foreign exchange student from Spain, also played his last match on the Bucks’ turf.
“It feels amazing,” Wolotira said of the win. “I owe a lot to my defense. They made it an easy day at the office for me. This was a great way to end the season.”