CORVALLIS — Bend High’s run had to end at some point. But this seemed too soon for Lava Bears coach Nils Eriksson.
After 72 minutes of scoreless play in Tuesday’s Class 5A boys soccer semifinals, David Nazario-Avalos scored on a long shot to give No. 2-seeded Corvallis the only goal it needed for a 1-0 win over No. 6 Bend, advancing the Spartans to the state championship final.
“The hardest part is not necessarily losing the game,” Eriksson said. “That’s tough, too. But it’s so final. We were having so much fun and enjoying each other. They’ve been having fun playing and liked coming to practice and working at it. But now, (the season) is done. It’s over. There’s no going forward.”
Making its first appearance in the semifinals since 2009, Bend (12-2-3 overall) could not break through against Corvallis. The Lava Bears played defensively, Eriksson said, and almost to a fault in the second half.
“They pushed pretty hard at us,” Eriksson said. “We didn’t let them have a lot of great chances, because we defended really well. But on the other hand, we were too far back on our end to connect (for a counterattack).”
With Bend focusing on its defense, Corvallis (15-1-1) could not muster many close scoring opportunities, and both sides offered few clear looks at the goal.
“I would have hoped that maybe we could have connected a little better and create a few more dangerous chances,” Eriksson said. “But we did a good job of denying them from having good, dangerous chances.”
The Spartans resorted to long shots at the Bend goal, and while only one got through for a score, it was all Corvallis needed to advance to the program’s first state final since 2009. The Spartans will face No. 9 Woodburn in the 5A final Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium.
“They’re a good team, there’s no doubt about that,” said Eriksson, whose team played Corvallis to a 1-1 draw earlier this season, also on the Spartans’ pitch.
Bend was limited to only a couple of shots against Corvallis, and the Lava Bears were shut out for the first time this season, snapping their unbeaten streak at 13 straight games. As a result, the Intermountain Conference-champion Lava Bears fell a step shy of the program’s second-ever appearance in the state championship game, and the first since 2006.
Bend, though, is loaded with potential returning players, many of whom will be seniors next year. Still, Eriksson said, “now is not the time to talk about next year.”
“This is a time to talk about the seniors we have and their commitment and leadership,” he said. “They’ve truly been a group that’s been great to be around.”