By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– His first game back from injury and Sprague’s Saul Hernandez surely made a huge impact for the Olympians in their 4-3 win over Sandy Tuesday night at home.
The Pioneers took a 3-2 lead with 6:26 left in the game after the game was tied for much of the second half that had seemingly deflated the Sprague spirits who were still waiting for their first win of the season at 0-2-2 entering the game.
But for the Olys, who have been so close to pulling off a win, finally had their number called.
“It was really tough. Sandy, they played a tough game, they had us battling. I was cramping up too,” said Hernandez. “I was telling myself, ‘we have to get our first win’, I told the team that this was the game we had to win and that’s what happened.”
Goalie Brody Whetzel pointed out as Hernandez tied the game up with 3:38 left in the game for his second goal of the game, most teams would fold up tent and call it a day. But as Sprague showed already this season with battling through injuries and now having their captain back in Hernandez, they weren’t going down without a fight.
“A lot of teams would quit there and we stayed with it. We fought and we kept going and I’m proud of us,” said Whetzel. “That’s a big win going forward, especially with league coming up and that’s huge. Especially a win like that, that’s huge for team building and moral, knowing that we’re not out of a game and knowing that we can still fight. That’s big.”
For a team that hosted a play-in game two years ago and are looking to sneak into the playoffs this season, they were just about to tear down the door of moral as 90 seconds later Hernandez found the back of the net for the go-ahead goal with a hair more than two minutes left in the game.
The Hat Trick goal handed the Olympians a 4-3 lead with the Sprague players on the field swarmed Hernandez like Lionel Messi after hitting his game winning goal against Real Madrid in 2017.
That exuberant feeling of that goal that helped them finish the game strong. That feeling of knowing they were so close to tying Mountainside, battling with Southridge and North Salem…to finally get over the hump and get that first ‘dub’ of the season was a long time coming with two more non-league games before starting league on October 1.
“It’s great to get our first win, we’ve had battles like with Southridge and North Salem where we couldn’t come out like what we wanted to. But today, it was just…we worked hard for it,” said Hernandez. “We need to improve a lot on the defensive side. We lost a lot on the defensive side from my sophomore year, we lost a lot of good players. These guys are young, but they work hard for it.”
Sprague host Centennial Thursday at 4pm.