The frigid winter winds did not blow in Hermiston’s favor on Tuesday night.

The Bulldog boys suffered a 3-1 loss to the visiting Walla Walla Blue Devils to open the season at Kennison Field.

The game served as their debut in the Mid-Columbia Conference, a league where boys soccer is played in spring instead of fall. It was their first game in 18 months.

“You could tell it’s been a while since we’ve been together as a program,” said coach Rich Harshberger. “We’re still getting our legs under us.”

Walla Walla’s net was left untouched for the entire first half. Junior midfielder Cristian Sanchez-Cuellar, senior midfielder Agustin Arceo, and junior forward Julio Tapia all knocked down goals for the Blue Devils.

Hermiston was held scoreless and went into the half down 3-0.

“We knew (Walla Walla) would come out and give us their best game possible, and we respected that,” said Bulldogs senior goalie Juan Navarrete. “I tried to help my team the best that I could. Walla Walla was tough.”

Navarrete toughed the game out with an injury after rolling his ankle in a physical education class earlier in the week.

“Sometimes, life doesn’t go your way,” he said. “But I wanted to come out and start over with a clean slate. I think the wind was in our favor in the second half. We played a better game.”

You could call it the wind, or you could call it bad luck for the Blue Devils, but Hermiston got their lone goal two minutes into the second half. Junior midfielder Coleman Solano launched the ball toward Walla Walla’s goal and Blue Devils sophomore midfielder Juan Segovia-Cruz deflected it into his team’s own net.

Solano and senior midfielder Emilio Leal both got penalty kicks for a chance to reduce their deficit, but missed the net. Neither team posted another goal as the clock wound down and signaled Walla Walla’s win.

“This game showed us our team’s deficiencies,” Harshberger said.

“We need to tighten up our touch and get our passes where they need to go. Walla Walla presses as a team really well. They didn’t give us a lot of time on the ball. We’ll see more of that when we play these upper-league teams this season.”

The Bulldogs will shoot for a comeback on Friday at 7 p.m. with a home match against Richland.

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