After opening the 2014 season with four away matches, Columbia High is reacquainting itself with the advantages of playing at home.
So far, so good.
The Bruins opened the post-spring break portion of their schedule on April 15 in Bruin Stadium versus King’s Way of Vancouver. They built a 6-2 halftime lead en route to a 9-2 victory that snapped a two-match losing streak.
Last Saturday, Columbia evened its 1A Trico League record at 3-3 with a 7-0 rout of winless Woodland.
“We have worked our way from 1-3 in our first four games to a 3-3 record going into the second half of the season,” Bruins Coach Christopher Cramer said. “We are finally figuring out where all of our pieces fit and how to play to our strengths. We are feeling confident heading forward and know we can compete with every other team in league.”
At Columbia 7, Woodland 0: Ivan Cortes scored his second hat trick of the week to lead the Bruins past the Bea-vers last Saturday.
Luis Pascual, Rodrigo Cor-tes, Mario Vargas, and Gabe Guzman also tallied goals for the Bruins, who led 3-0 at halftime.
“Woodland is without a win this season but has played many teams very tough,” Cramer noted. “They have some good players but not enough quality starters to be really competitive.”
Still, the Beavers moved the ball well at times, and controlled the midfield area for most of the first half, but couldn’t penetrate the CHS defense to apply much in the way of offensive pressure.
“Their biggest issue is their defense and goalkeeper,” Cramer said, “which is what allowed us to score three first-half goals, despite playing a little slow and lacking the sharpness we would like to have.”
Columbia picked up the energy in the second half and began to put together the kind of coordinated attacks on goal that Cramer likes to see.
“We really started moving the ball around the field better, regaining control of the midfield and allowing more numbers to join in the at-tack,” Cramer said, and added, “It has been important for us to score like we have in the last two games because we needed to find that confidence in our attack and our ability to score.”
At Columbia 9, King’s Way 2: Luis Pascual netted four goals and Ivan Cortes scored three as the Bruins kicked off the second half of their season.
Rodrigo Cortes and Mario Vargas each knocked in one goal for Columbia.
Cramer said the Bruins started the match with a strong showing, scoring in the opening minutes. He was less pleased moments later when the Knights took ad-vantage of a CHS defensive lapse to put in the equalizer.
Columbia made it 2-1 minutes later, but King’s Way refused to let the game get away early and responded with a second equalizer.
“After that we found our rhythm and sorted out our defense, and found the back of the net four more times before half,” Cramer said.
Coming up: The Bruins hosted their rematch with the La Center Wildcats on Tuesday. The result was too late for this week’s edition. CHS lost the first meeting in La Center, 7-2.
“La Center has a couple of strong players in the attack that we were unprepared for, plus, we were without some key players,” Cramer noted. “We have a solid game plan this time around and should be near full strength. This could be a season-defining game for us.”
Today, Columbia entertains Stevenson for a rematch in Bruin Stadium. The Bruins won the first meeting in Carson, 3-1.
On Saturday, Columbia is at Tenino for a non-league encounter.
Next Tuesday, the Bruins face another stern Trico test when Toledo/Winlock come to town for a rematch. The United edged the Bruins, 4-3, the first time around.
“We really want to get a big crowd for that game,” Cramer said.