A Jekyll-and-Hyde start to the girls soccer season has afforded Hood River Valley Coach Amanda Orand to focus on practice plans with different emphasis points.

In the Eagles’ opening match — a 6-0 win vs. St. Helens on Sept. 1 — the Eagles were able to put some of their ball possession drills to work in a match setting. Amelia Huxtable, one of HRV’s captains, had two goals and two assists in the high-scoring match against St. Helens.

“It was nice to have a game where we could work on possessing the ball and finishing in the final third,” Orand said of the first of four nonleague matches.

Other goals came from Ava Kitt, Julia Rowan, Emily Sullenger and Sutton LeFevre.

A week later, the Eagles traveled Sept. 9 to West Albany, where the Bulldogs won the non-league match, 3-0.

“On the flip side, West Albany provided us with a great opportunity to focus on defensive shifting and communication,” Orand said. “Our defense has made huge strides in the last two weeks thanks to the leadership of senior Ana Ruby Juarez and captain goalkeeper, Alyssa Martinez.”

Two of West Albany’s three goals came from nice finishes from crosses that made it to the far post. Orand said: “We’ll be working on covering that space in upcoming practices.”

The Eagles were treated to a meal provided by West Albany for the trip back to the Gorge. “It’s always a pleasure to play at West Albany as their coach has roots in Hood River and they graciously provided us with a meal before we hit the road,” Orand said.

Once home, HRV prepared for its Tuesday match at Hillsboro and a home showdown Sept. 21 against unbeaten (as of Sunday) La Salle of Milwaukie. The 10-game Intermountain Conference season begins Sept. 23, when the Eagles travel to Redmond to face Ridgeview. The teams met on the final day of the COVID-shortened spring season this past May in the IMC district tourney final, won 2-0 by Ridgeview.