La Grande kept close most of the afternoon against an aggressive squad from Jerome, Idaho, despite trailing most of the afternoon and battling through playing a second match in as many days.
But Jerome found the net twice in the final 15 minutes to pull away for a 3-0 win over the Tigers Saturday at Community Stadium.
Head coach Sid Rangel, though, found a lot of positives to take from the weekend, which had featured a 3-0 win over Wood River, Idaho, a day earlier.
“We’re trying a lot of different things. Yesterday we played awesome soccer, and today was the case as well,” Rangel said. “We played awesome, but we tweaked some things. Formations, some rotations, trying to get a look at some different players in different roles in positions. (And) we did face two quality opponents.”
Jerome was the aggressor, maintaining possession in the offensive zone much of the match, and taking close to double the amount of shots at La Grande (16-9) and putting seven shots on goal to just two for La Grande.
“We came out a bit flat during the first halves, and then brought it back up. I think we really need to step it up in the first half,” Callum Ebel said.
But through about 65 minutes — and in spite of the “flat” start by La Grande — all Jerome had to show for its efforts was a first-half penalty kick by Luis Martinez.
Jerome added to its margin, though, in the 67th minute on a second penalty kick, this time by Ubaldo Palacios, for a two-goal margin.
“We played with a lot of heart in the second half,” Ebel said.
Jerome added a late goal by Alfredo Ortiz for the final margin.
“They had two PKs and the one live (ball) goal,” Rangel said. “That’s what it is, but we played pretty good soccer against a top contender team from Idaho.”
The Tigers did put two shots on goal, both of which were turned away by Jerome’s Mervin Ruiz.
Jacob Huntsman had four saves in goal for La Grande.
“The big takeaway is we’ve gotta work a little bit on our set pieces. We’ve gotta work on our formation and our defensive shape. We’ll only get better from here. We’re just focused on Tuesday.”
That match Tuesday for La Grande (1-1-0 overall) is a road contest against Riverside.