The Crook County Cowboys played inspired soccer early in their match with the Madras White Buffalos.
However, Crook County was unable to keep the momentum as Madras overcame an early deficit to come back and defeat Crook County 6-2 in a match that had fireworks both on and off the field.
"It's our first whole game playing together and I thought we did good," Crook County first-year head coach Ramone Castañeda told his team following the match. "We will get better from here."
Playing in front of the home crowd, the Cowboys overcame an early White Buffalo barrage, withstanding several early Madras scoring opportunities.
Crook County finally pushed the ball into the White Buffalo end of the field about 15 minutes into the half, earning a corner kick.
The Cowboys' first attempt at a corner was knocked out of bounds by a Madras defender. However, on their second try the Cowboys connected as Elias Villagomez drove the corner kick across the face of the goal, where Jesse Sanchez was in the right spot at the right time to knock the ball into the goal.
"I didn't think that I was going to score, but then the ball just fell right in front of me and I was able to just kick it into the goal," Sanchez said. "We were all on the same page to start with. We were all passing the ball to each other and communicating and telling each other what to do and stuff like that."
Madras tied the match a few minutes later on a shot by Javier Sedano.
However, the Cowboys were able to answer late in the first half as an unmarked Logan Morrow took a crossing pass and drilled the ball into the far corner of the net, giving the Cowboys a 2-1 lead.
The Cowboys still led 2-1 at the half, although the White Buffalos managed to dominate time of possession.
The White Buffalos continued to pressure the Cowboys in the second half, finally breaking through on a blast from Omar Diaz from 35 meters out on the left side of the field.
The White Buffalos scored again midway through the half on a shot by Franklin Pineda that went through the hands of Crook County goalkeeper Joseph Miller.
Then, before the Cowboys had a chance to respond, play was suspended due to lightning strikes near the field.
When play finally resumed, the Cowboys seemed to have lost their momentum.
Immediately after play resumed, Madras intercepted an errant Crook County pass and attacked the Cowboy defense with Tyriek Rodriguez picking up an easy goal to give the White Buffalos a 4-2 lead.
That seemed to deflate the Cowboys, who began to yell at each other, and appeared disorganized the remainder of the game.
"We started to talk when we scored our second goal," Sanchez said. "I think that's what got them mad is when we started to talk. They told each other that they had to step up and they were all on the same page and they started to beat us. Then, we were all yelling at each other."
Madras scored two more goals in rapid succession with Luise Benitez and Jesus Alonso both taking advantage of good crossing passes to drill the ball into the back of the goal.
Then, late in the game, the fireworks were on the field as the two teams became angry with each other and a shoving match ensued near midfield. Players on both sides were removed from the field by their coaches and order was restored. However, neither team was able to generate any offense from that point on.
"We can't let them get into our heads," Castañeda said. "We have to stay focused 100 percent and not let anybody get to us."
Still, in spite of the loss, Castañeda said that he was still pleased with the progress that he had seen from his team.
"That was big progress," he said. "We kept the Madras team contained. Last year, we lost to them 9-1. We can definitely improve, so it was good."
With the loss, Crook County fell to 0-1, while the White Buffalos moved to 1-0 on the year.
The Cowboys are at home again today when they host the Dallas Dragons, 1-0, in a 4 p.m. match.
The Cowboys are at home again on Saturday, when they play the La Pine Hawks in a 3 p.m. match.
The game will be a rematch of sorts as the two teams faced each other the opening week of the season at the Sisters Jamboree. Although that 30-minute match did not count on the record, the Cowboys still took a 2-1 win.
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