KLAMATH FALLS — The Henley Hornets started out the season slow, as they will attest.
Except for a season-opening non-conference 4-1 win against Lakeview, the Hornets’ early season was marked by three losses and two draws for a 1-3-2 record over their first six matches.
Their next win came almost a month later when they shut out Klamath Union at home.
“At the beginning of the year we weren’t doing so hot,” senior defender Raigan Loney said. “But during the end of the year we’re really picking it up.”
Now, the No. 11 Hornets are marked by possession, intensity and communication, highlighted in a 2-0 rout of the No. 19 Astoria Fishermen Saturday in a play-in match to advance to the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
“We’re peaking at the right time,” Henley head coach Michael Hedlund said. “We beat Hidden Valley last week and stepped up again and played good this week. I think we have the potential to do some damage.”
The Hornets are no longer slow to start.
They established their dominance early Saturday – just three minutes into play.
Henley sophomore forward Ryane Mattox took a shot on goal inside the goal box. Astoria’s goalkeeper deflected the pass but couldn’t gain possession.
Sophomore midfielder Beth Hamilton found the loose ball and drilled it into Astoria’s net to take a lead.
Mattox found the back of the net and a redemption goal 15 minutes later on an unassisted driving goal to give the Hornets a two-point margin.
Mattox said the two early goals allowed Henley to relax and have fun, which showed as the Hornets held possession, found good passing lanes and pressed the ball up the pitch.
Meanwhile, the Fishermen were anxious to find equalizing goals, forcing passes and giving up possession under pressure.
Astoria couldn’t capitalize on their offensive opportunities resulting in a shutout elimination.
“The team as a whole stepped up and played well,” Hedlund said. “We had good possession, finished our chances. It was nice to see them peaking when it matters.”
After halftime, Astoria put up an impressive defensive front and kept the Hornets scoreless over the remainder of the game, as goalkeeper Shelby Rasmussen successfully stopped every Henley shot on goal in the second half.
Astoria finishes the season 4-7-4 overall. Henley will play Tuesday at Philomath.