By Ronald Bond
The Eastern Oregon University men’s soccer team put together arguably its best performance in a win Friday.
A late goal Saturday, though, kept the Mountaineers from a perfect weekend.
EOU scored twice in each half to earn a 4-1 win over Carroll College on Friday but had to settle for a split when Providence stole Saturday’s match, 2-1, in a pair of Cascade Collegiate Conference games at Community Stadium.
“(On Friday) they were playing hard and playing for each other, and you could see it in one of the goals,” head coach Zach Mills said. “The entire team celebrated, the bench (celebrated), and that was a beautiful thing. We are a family here.”
Both teams scored in the game’s first 10 minutes, with EOU’s Javier Moran finding the back of the net unassisted in the fifth minute before Carroll’s Nick Lowrimore scored three minutes later.
After that, it was all Mountaineers.
Jack Rose broke the tie with an unassisted goal in the 33rd minute to give EOU a 2-1 lead at the half, and Eastern broke it open with two goals in less than four minutes early in the second half. Erik Mattice found Patrick Larsen for a 3-1 lead in the 58th minute, then scored unassisted in the 62nd for the final margin.
“They came out early (and) scored quick,” Mills said. “They let one in, but as soon as they did they said, ‘Let’s step up and play our game.’ They put three more in the back of the net. The hard work definitely paid off.”
Max Rose, who put together what may have been his best weekend of the season, had five saves in the win Friday.
On Saturday, EOU had to play the role of comeback kids early. A goal by Providence’s Manuel Garcia put the Argos ahead 1-0 in the ninth minute, a margin they maintained throughout the half despite being outshot by Eastern.
The Mountaineers needed less than three minutes to pull even after the break, with Moran corralling a ball that slipped past a Providence defender and putting in a shot from 20 yards to tie the score at 1-1 in the 48th minute.
It was the first of many chances by both teams in the second half, but both keepers — Max Rose for EOU and Hernan Perez for Providence — turned in solid efforts to keep their respective teams even. Perez finished with seven saves and Rose two, but Rose’s stopped a pair of for-sure goals.
“He had two saves that were game-saving saves at the time,” Mills said. “They would have scored that (and) it would have gone downhill. He kept us in it. I was proud of him. The work he’s been putting in really showed tonight, even though we didn’t get the result we wanted.”
The game appeared it was headed for overtime before George Holloway put home a shot on a loose ball — one Mills said the Mountaineers should have cleared — with just three minutes to play to win the match.
“He had an open shot. We switched off for that second, didn’t clear the ball when we should have,” Mills said.
The outcome was the latest in what has been a recurring theme for EOU this fall — close games. Of the Mountaineers’ 10 matches, seven have either been a one-goal game or ended in a tie. Eastern is 2-4-1 in those instances. It’s 2-1 in all other contests.
“A lot of it was we had to figure ourselves out the first part of the season, (and) injuries don’t help,” Mills said, noting he had at least two players Saturday who either didn’t play at all or were limited to just a few minutes due to prior injuries. Eastern lost a key piece midway through the second half when Carlos Solorio went down with an ankle injury. Moran even missed a portion of the first half before returning to score his goal.
Eastern (4-5-1 overall, 2-3-0 CCC) travels to Oregon Tech Friday.