Hilhi blanks visiting Sandy 1-0
Hilhi is perfect.
Well, not really. After all, who is? But after at least two Northwest Oregon Conference games, the Spartans are undefeated and atop the league standings.
Hillsboro dropped previously undefeated Sandy 1-0 Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 3, at Hillsboro High School and improved to 2-0 in league play and 7-2 overall.
The Spartans got a goal in the 35th minute from senior forward Brandon Chavez, who gathered a deflected ball in the middle of the 18-yard box, took a few quick dribbles to the right and blasted a shot past Pioneer goal keeper Brandon Moreno.
"Honestly, it kind of just came to me," said Chavez who reluctantly took credit for the goal. "The defender made a mistake and I cleaned it up."
That mistake was all Hillsboro needed, as they kept Sandy in the midfield most of the afternoon and quickly stifled any offensive penetration into their end of the field.
"In the simplest terms, we did what we had to do," said a somewhat frustrated Hillsboro head coach Stuart Hoiem.
But not much more, as the Spartans for the most part let the Pioneers dictate the play, spreading Hillsboro out and making the home team chase the ball around.
"We weren't very sharp out there," said Hoiem. "When we won the opportunity and had a chance to counter attack, it just wasn't fast enough going forward. We squandered some good chances."
That they did.
Hilhi standout and last season's Northwest Oregon Conference Player of the Year, Bryan Tapia, missed on a number of quality opportunities in the first half, including a penalty kick in the 33rd minute. The senior forward dribbled into the 18-yard box from the right side and appeared to have a good look on goal before being manhandled and taken down by Sandy's Carter Newell. Tapia then launched a free shot toward the right side of the net, only to have it blocked by the diving Moreno. It was the second consecutive penalty miss for the struggling star and third in five attempts this season.
"Bryan's struggling a little right now with his confidence," said Hoiem. "But he's fighting through it and as coaches we're supporting him as best we can. He'll get through it and hopefully when we need him most."
The second half was mostly uneventful, with the Spartans missing on a couple opportunities while the Pioneers chances were few and far between. Sandy's best chance came in the 47th minute when junior midfielder Kevin Velasco crossed one beautifully into the box from the right side, setting up what appeared to be a nice look on goal for senior Allan Lainez. But Lainez' whiffed on the shot, allowing the ball to roll helplessly to a Spartan defender, ending the threat and ultimately the Pioneers' last quality look.
"They didn't get many opportunities and I think that was more us than them," said Hoiem. "We have given up a few goals this season but for the most part we've limited the dangerous chances teams have gotten. Which I credit our back line for staying organized and the midfielders helping out."
Sandy head coach Garet Luebbert lamented his team's lack of opportunities, but also credited the Spartans for dictating that both directly and indirectly.
"I think there was a lot of little things that made a difference," said Luebbert. "Hillsboro's a great team and I think we came out a little intimidated and tried to do too much early on."
Which was evident with their more confident approach as the game progressed.
"The first half was definitely theirs," Luebbert said. "But in the second half we settled down, got more comfortable, got some chances, and were able to at least make things interesting."
But the Spartans were the better team and Luebbert seemed to understand that, while equally frustrated by his team's inconsistency.
"In the end I'm proud of the guys and their efforts," he said. "But we need to figure out how to put two halves together."
Hillsboro is next scheduled to play at Wilsonville Thursday, Oct. 5.