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Cowboys unable to get on the board in matches with Hood River Valley and Pendleton

PMG PHOTO: LON AUSTIN - Crook County junior Jesse Wood is upended by Pendleton's goalkeeper during the Cowboys' 3-0 loss last week.The Crook County High School boys soccer team has struggled to win matches this year.

This past week was no exception. The Cowboys were steamrolled 8-0 Tuesday on the road at Hood River Valley, then failed to find the back of the goal in a 3-0 home loss to the Pendleton Buckaroos on Thursday.

"We really didn't play to our fullest potential," goalkeeper Tiernan Durbin said of Tuesday's match. "I think, overall, we just need to work on our mental stuff."

The Cowboys fell behind 6-0 in the first half to the league-leading Eagles, then gave up two more goals less than 10 minutes into the second half, ending the match early on the eight-goal rule.

Thursday was another story. Playing in windy, blustery conditions, the Cowboys dominated the first half, pelting the Pendleon goal with shots. However, the Cowboys were unable to score, hitting multiple shots off the uprights, a shot off the cross bar, and several shots over the top of the goal. In addition, several shots were stopped by the Pendleton goalkeeper.

The ball rarely crossed midfield the entire half as the Cowboys took advantage of the wind direction to control play.

The second half was another story. Playing against the wind, Crook County continued to force the action early in the period. However, once again, the Cowboys failed to score. Then, 18 minutes into the half, Pendleton countered a Crook County attack, rushing down the field and blasting a shot off the Cowboy cross bar. A Pendleton player alertly picked up the rebound and drove it into the back of the goal, giving the Buckaroos a 1-0 advantage.

Two minutes later the Buckaroos blasted a shot from just inside the center line that found the back of the net, giving Pendleton a 2-0 lead. The Buckaroos scored a third goal on a direct free kick with just over 18 minutes remaining in the contest to make the final score 3-0.

"Mental toughness got us today, big time," Crook County head coach Bryan Housley told his team following the match. "That second half it looked like you guys went back to the first few days of practice and everything you were working on disappeared. You didn't have the heart in the second half, they came out in the second half and dictated what happened. They took advantage of that wind."

With the losses, Crook County fell to 0-8 in league and 0-12 overall, while Hood River Valley improved to 7-0-1 in league play and 9-1-2 overall and Pendleton improved to 2-6 in Intermountain Conference play and 3-10 overall.

"It's all mental right now," Durbin said. "We are trying to work on our mental stuff and hopefully in our last two games if we get one goal scored against us, we won't just break down. Overall, we are making great progress even though it is not showing in our wins."

The Cowboys are on the road at Ridgeview, 5-2-1, 7-4-2, today for a 6 p.m. match, then return home on Thursday for their final match of the year, a 4:30 p.m. contest against Redmond, 4-4, 4-8.

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