Kaela Lee's 57th-minute header notwithstanding, the Class 5A No. 4 Lions could not avoid a loss to their Class 6A adversary named for the United States' fourth president.
The Senators scored five times before Lee's breakthrough in a 5-1 win on Monday in Portland.
"Sometimes great teams have [bad] games," said St. Helens coach Simon Date in the postgame gathering. "Are we a great team? I don't know, we still have to set that bar at practice. If we dwell on this game, we are in for a long year."
The Lions (1-1 overall) beat Madison 6-0 at Doc Ackerson Stadium last year and came into Monday tied for the best defense in the state after a 6-0 shutout of Class 4A Astoria on Thursday, Sept. 7, but the Senators (3-0) entered with Class 6A's most goals scored (20) and the third-fewest allowed (three).
Lee and St. Helens pushed the ball too close to Madison junior goalkeeper Cynthia Bui's box for comfort, but junior Audrey Caso scored at the left of Morgan Bingaman's goal in a 20th-minute counterattack.
Bui launched the ball up the left side to invigorate her Senators' chances, and they led 1-0 at the half.
Junior Cierra Smith struck as Madison pushed right into the Lions goal for their second score in the 42nd minute.
Date appealed to his Lions to run with passes if they wanted breakaways, but three Madison counterattacks to the right post became three more goals.
Lee, having just about enough of the Senators' excitement, sent a header into the center of the net with Kelsey Elliott's 57th-minute cross from the left.
"We really need to work on communicating, focusing on the game and not letting emotions negatively impact our ability to work together as a team and play to our full potential," said Lee, a junior forward. "Passing is another opportunity for improvement: We have a tendency just to kick the ball out of the back instead of working our way up and utilizing each position on the field."
The Lions' next outing is a game against Hermiston scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Doc Ackerson Stadium.
St. Helens has split four meetings with the Bulldogs (2-3) by an average of three goals and tied once since 2011.
"I feel like ... we need to focus on a lot of little things that we've talked about as a team, such as connecting short passes between midfielders, playing through balls to our forwards' feet instead of too far in front of them, committing to runs and tackles instead of being hesitant, and also switching fields more often," St. Helens senior midfielder Myranda Northrop said. "If we communicate as a team and fix those simple things, I believe we will come out with a victory."
CLASS 5A GIRLS' SOCCER TOP 10
1. Crescent Valley (2-0)
2. Ashland (3-0)
3. Bend (2-0)
4. Marist Catholic (4-0)
5. St. Helens (1-1)
6. Milwaukie (2-0)
7. North Eugene (1-1)
8. Woodburn (2-1)
9. Ridgeview (3-0)
10. Wilsonville (1-1)