After opening league play with last week’s win, the Bucks suffered a disappointing 1-0 loss against The Dalles at home on Tuesday..
But the loss didn’t come without a fight as defense from both teams took center stage on the Pendleton soccer field. More than an hour of gameplay had passed before The Dalles scored the only goal.
Bucks goalie and team captain Andrew Wolotira led his team’s defense in the first half — the ball stayed on Pendleton’s side throughout — and no matter how many shots came his way, he kept the net safe. But he wouldn’t take all the credit.
“My defense did a great job,” he said. “It may seem like I did the work, but it was all them.”
The Bucks, however, suffered a critical blow during the second half — midfielder Juan Ortega collided with Riverhawks defender Omar Torres and injured his knee. After being tended to by athletic trainer Debbie Green, Ortega was sent to the hospital to be checked for any potential fractures. It’s unclear if he’ll return for Thursday’s match at Crook County.
Torres received a yellow card for the incident.
The Dalles scored the game’s lone goal when forward Alex Gutierez finally got the best of Wolotira with 15:30 left in the second half.
But a penalty on The Dalles gave the Bucks a chance to come back. Riverhawks goalie Jaime Castro slid into Pendleton forward Edwin Linares as he went for a goal, opening it up for center mid Jonathan Lopez to even the score on a penalty kick.
“There was a lot going through my head,” Lopez said of his penalty kick. “With our injured player and how the game was going, there was a lot of pressure.”
But Castro was too quick, stopped the penalty kick and The Dalles took home their second consecutive win.
“I feel like I let the whole team down,” Lopez said after the game. “I miscalculated. I gotta keep the team together. If we all play with the potential and talent I know we have, we can do anything.”
Despite the defeat, Bucks head coach Alex Erazo is staying positive. Erazo says the problems they faced on the field can be remedied in time to travel to Crook County (1-4, 0-1).
“As a team, we weren’t quite ready,” he said. “Yeah, we lost today, but with every game, we’ve shown improvement. We can build off that.”
Pendleton will spend the coming practices building momentum — something they lost during their bye week while the Round-Up was in town.
“It’s a week most teams don’t have to take off,” Wolotira said. “The progress we were making dipped off. We’ll have to start from scratch. I’m proud of my guys. We just need a little more effort and control over the ball. It’s the little things.”