Momentum comes and goes throughout a season, but right now the Pasco High School soccer team has it, as the Bulldogs went on the road to beat cross-town rival Chiawana 4-1 on Tuesday night for their seventh straight win.
With the win, Pasco (12-3, 10-3) maintained its lead at the top of the Mid-Columbia Conference over Kennewick (11-3, 9-3), which beat Richland in a shootout Tuesday. The Bulldogs also swept the Gravel Pit Bowl season series, as they beat the Riverhawks 1-0 in overtime March 31 at Edgar Brown Stadium.
“You saw a lot of unselfish play tonight, a lot of great combinations with passing and real unselfish play,” Pasco coach Matt Potter said. “And we’re proud of them for that.”
Regning MCC Co-Player of the Year Jesus Meraz Rodriguez again assumed his role as the spearhead of the Bulldogs’ attack and netted two goals on the night. For the senior, scoring against his team’s biggest league rival never gets old.
“Especially against this team I wanted to score, because it’s a big rivalry,” Meraz Rodriguez said. “We want to represent Pasco more than they do, and obviously they want to do the same. It means a lot.”
After goals from Joel Valle and Kevin Meraz Rodriguez — Jesus’ younger brother — in the first 10 minutes put Pasco up 2-0, Jesus Meraz Rodriguez scored his first in the 19th. The goal was set up by sophomore Edwin Aquino, who made the play of the match when he saved the ball from rolling out of bounds over the goal line, then fired it back to an open Meraz Rodriguez in front of the goal to make it 3-0.
“I know the ball’s going to the penalty, because every time someone gets the ball outside the penalty area, they know where to put it because they know I’m going to be there,” Meraz Rodriguez said. “I’m not going to let them down. ... You put it there, I have to do my job.”
Many of the Pasco soccer players started playing together when they were in elementary school, which has forged bonds that are invaluable on the pitch. However, Meraz Rodriguez said he and Aquino played on opposing teams when they were growing up.
Now on the same side, they’re a dynamic duo up front for the Bulldogs.
“Me and Edwin have been rivals since we were little kids, but once we got to high school, we set that aside and started being a team,” Meraz Rodriguez said.
Andres Arroyo netted Chiawana’s only goal with a penalty kick in the 31st, then Meraz Rodriguez capped the game’s scoring by burying a PK in the bottom left corner in the 60th to put the score at its 4-1 final.
“Chiawana’s always a good team, a really good team, so this is a tough game game for us,” Potter said. “And even when it was 3-1, you’ve gotta keep playing because they can come back.”
Pasco: Will clinch its third straight MCC championship if it beats Southridge (5-10, 4-9) at 7 p.m. Friday at Lampson Stadium. Even if Kennewick wins its season finale against Walla Walla on Saturday, the Bulldogs swept the Lions this season and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Chiawana: Wraps up its regular season with a home game against Kamiakin at 7 p.m. Friday.
Scoring: P, Jesus Meraz Rodriguez 2G (1PK); Kevin Meraz Rodriguez G; Joel Valle G; Edwin Aquino 2A; Luis Ortega A. C, Andres Arroyo G (PK). Shots: P 16, C 2.