Riverside boys drop Pioneers, 2-1

Mac-Hi's Gerardo Robles makes a shot on goal in front of Riverside's keeper Flavio Betancourt for the Pioneers' only goal Tuesday evening in Milton-Freewater.  Riverside claimed the match in a 2-1 victory...September 25, 2013      Sean G. Parsons

Mac-Hi's Gerardo Robles makes a shot on goal in front of Riverside's keeper Flavio Betancourt for the Pioneers' only goal Tuesday evening in Milton-Freewater. Riverside claimed the match in a 2-1 victory...September 25, 2013 Sean G. Parsons

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MILTON-FREEWATER – It was a heated battle between undefeated McLoughlin High and Riverside boys soccer teams on the Pioneers’ pitch here Tuesday.

Something had to give.

After a scoreless first half, in which Mac-Hi outshot the Pirates 7-3 with four on-goal, Riverside’s shots found their mark in the second half as the Pirates took the 2-1 victory.

Riverside outshot the Pioneers 8-6 in the second half, with a 6-3 on-goal edge for the victors.

“I could tell that Riverside wanted the game more than we did,” Mac-Hi coach Jose Garcia said.

The Pirates scored the first goal at the 58-minute mark of the game. Mario Sepulveda sent the ball ahead to Edgar Rodriguez for the goal at point-blank range.

The Pioneers’ equalizer came with 5:35 remaining in the game, as Alex Saldana crossed a pass to Gerardo Robles, who booted it in just a few feet away from the Riverside keeper Flavio Betancourt.

With less than two minutes left in the match, Pirates midfielder Francisco Velasquez had a breakaway, and Mac-Hi keeper Christian Ceja came charging out of his goal box.

Ceja and Velasquez collided, with both players hitting the ground and the ball bouncing off into the distance. An injury timeout was awarded to Ceja as he stayed on the ground.

A red card was awarded to Ceja, he was ejected and the Pirates were awarded a penalty kick just outside the box.

“It was not intentional on our part,” Garcia said of the collision. “The other team’s player ran into our player, too.”

Velasquez took the kick and scored against Mac-Hi’s backup keeper Mauricio Gomez.

After the Riverside goal, Velasquez was given a red card for excessive celebration and ejected.

Red-card ejections come with match suspensions.

After the match ended, the Pioneers received a yellow card on an unidentified player for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“We get a little frustrated sometimes and we always need to do what is good for the team,” Garcia said.“We also need to be smarter about how to share the ball and play together.”

All-in-all, Mac-Hi received a red card and three yellow cards.

Riverside got a red and yellow card.

“We need to work on when they put pressure on us,” Garcia said. “What to do with the ball when we have two or three guys covering us. Trying to take on two or three guys with the ball leads to them being able to steal and counterattack.”

The Pirates’ record now stands at 6-0, and they are ranked first in Oregon state in the 3A/2A/1A classification.

Mac-Hi is currently ranked sixth in 4A classification at 6-1-1.

The Pioneers next head to La Grande Tuesday, and they have a rematch with the Pirates in Boardman, Ore., on Oct. 29.

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