GRANTS PASS — The Phoenix Pirates dug themselves an early hole in Skyline Conference play last season. They've managed to avoid a similar trap this season.
Eli Espana had two goals and an assist and Ezequiel Flores had a goal and an assist as Phoenix bolted out to a 3-0 halftime lead en route to a 4-1 road victory over rival Hidden Valley.
The win improves the Pirates to 3-1-1 overall and 2-0 in Skyline play, while the Mustangs fell to 2-2-1 and 0-2.
"We needed to get off on a good start because the race for the conference title is a bit of a street fight," Phoenix coach Dennis Flenner said, "so it was a good win."
Espana gave the Pirates the early lead when he took a pass from Flores in the box and scored from close range to give Phoenix a 1-0 lead only three minutes into the game.
In the 20th, Espana added his second goal when he took a pass from Jose Alegria then dribbled past a defender and the goalkeeper for an easy tap-in score.
Ten minutes later, Flores controlled a nice pass from Espana and went far post from 10 yards out to give the Pirates more breathing room.
Hidden Valley's Ian Hernandez scored on a penalty kick in the 59th to help the Mustangs avoid the shutout, and Phoenix's Jose Mendez headed in Alegria's corner in the 69th for the final score.
HIDDEN VALLEY 7, PHOENIX 0 — At Talent, Raychel Clark scored in the 28th minute and Katelyn Lambert converted 11 minutes later to give Hidden Valley a 2-0 halftime lead at Hagler-James Park.
The Mustangs (4-2, 1-1 Skyline) erupted for five goals after intermission.
Emily Murphy scored the Mustangs' first two goals of the second half, followed by Clark, a penalty kick from Alyssa Byrd and Courtney Hart's final goal.
Jordan Stevens, a junior defender, did a good job trying to coordinate the Phoenix (1-5, 0-2) back line.
PROSPECT 3, PAISLEY 0 — At Paisley, Prospect's Heather Lass was 22-for-24 serving with six aces and 21 assists in the Cougars' 25-14, 25-9, 25-13 win in Mountain Valley League action.
Alee Pinkerton landed all 11 of her service attempts and added three aces, Halee Hedgpeth contributed six kills and Taylor Bernhardt and Miranda Hedgpeth each turned in 18 digs for Prospect (9-3, 6-1 MVL).