Pirates attack Eagles' net

Riverside's Francisco Martinez and Riverside's Nathaniel Theodore chase the ball during Tuesday's game in Boardman.<br><em>Staff photo by Sarah Britain

BOARDMAN - Nothing like a little revenge to jump-start a playoff run.

The Riverside Pirates got the Santiam Christian Eagles out of the way Tuesday with a 3-1 victory to move into the second round of the Class 3A/2A/1A state boys' soccer playoffs.

Two years ago Santiam Christian of Corvallis knocked Riverside out in the first round of the playoffs with a 1-0 upset win.

Just like this year, the Pirates were the Special District 5 champs in 2006, the Eagles were the No. 3 seed out of Special District 4, and the game was in Boardman.

The two differences this year were Riverside's overpowering offense and Santiam Christian's inexperience.

From start to finish the Pirates barraged the Eagles' goal Tuesday, missing most everything in the first half but wearing the defense down.

Santiam Christian, which returned just one starter from last year's semi-final squad, held steady through the frame but clearly ran out of steam as the game wore on.

"We tried to make their defense work," Riverside coach Carlos Velasco said. "We switched the ball from side to side and we saw that they weren't chasing the ball as much in the second half."

The Eagles scored first in the match in the 10th minute with junior Jimmy Park getting the team's first shot on goal past Pirate keeper Alberto Ruiz.

The ball stayed on the ground but skipped when it reached the junior goalkeeper and rolled to the back of the net.

"I was all frozen up on it," Ruiz said. "I went down to get it and it came out more to the left."

Though it only took one goal for Santiam Christian to win the last time around, Ruiz said he was confident the Riverside attack would make up for the early bit of bad luck.

With halftime approaching, Riverside's Favian Madrigal finally got a low shot past Santiam Christian keeper Kaz Dyer to tie the game at 1-1 in the 36th minute. It was Riverside's 17th shot of the half.

A strong cross wind favored the Pirates in the first half, and with the same wind cutting into their faces in the second half the team planned to keep the ball low and look for solo shots if possible.

"We told them to slow down, that the goals will come," Velasco said. "One of the things we talked about at halftime was saying you can take the shot yourself. We told that to (Iovanni Barrera) and all the forwards."

Barrera was the first to find the open shot, using some fancy footwork outside the goalie box and driving the go-ahead goal to the corner of the net.

The Eagles responded immediately with Sean Fowler taking a similar shot on the other end of the field, which glanced off the right post.

Santiam Christian got another opportunity minutes later when Riverside goalkeeper Alberto Ruiz was yellow carded for swinging his back foot toward a forward as he pulled the ball out of the air. Ruiz claimed the move was inadvertent, but the official said his foot grazed the Santiam Christian player and Ruiz had to watch from the sidelines as sophomore Ignacio Cambero came in to play keeper for the out-of-box penalty kick.

While Ruiz said he didn't like the feeling of watching as Santiam Christian took the possible tying shot, he did express faith in Cambero to hold steady until he could re-enter. Coach Velasco felt the same.

"We know he (Cambero) can play in times like that," the coach said. "That's why we brought him up from JV, in case something happens."

The replacement keeper didn't end up getting in on the play as the wall of Riverside players deflected the shot and the team got the ball out of bounds to bring Ruiz back in.

Francisco Martinez scored Riverside's third goal soon after, cleaning up a ball left in front of the goal to give the Pirates all the insurance they'd need for the win.

Santiam Christian took one final gasp in the final 10 minutes of the game on a penalty kick in the goalie box, but Eagle forward William Harvey bounced the attempt off the right side of the goal and his team didn't get another good look the rest of the way.

The Pirates ended the Eagles' bid for four straight trips to the semi-finals, but Santiam Christian coach David Harvey said the young team was excited to even make the playoffs after a 1-5 start this season.

"For a lot of our guys, they just finished their first 14 varsity games ever," he said. "It's always nice to see a team overachieve."

Riverside will play host to the St. Mary's Crusaders of Medford Saturday in the second round of the playoffs.

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