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Two goals by Salma Sacco lead Crook County to a 3-1 victory over Madras in the season's final game

LON AUSTIN  - Crook County Cowgirls soccer players celebrate after a 3-1 win over Madras, the program's first victory since the 2018 season. It's taken the most of five seasons, but the Crook County Cowgirls soccer squad has won a game.

Tuesday, Oct. 25 in Prineville, the Madras White Buffalos got off to a blazing start, but could not maintain the momentum as the Crook County Cowgirls came back to take a 3-1 victory in the final soccer match of the season for both teams.

"Congrats to them," said Madras head coach Shawn Darrow. "They played hard. They've improved a lot as the season has gone on. You could tell by the score lines that they've had previously that they've been getting better, so good for them. It's been tough for them to get wins."

Tough to get wins may be an understatement as the victory was the first for Crook County since early in the season in 2018.

"I don't have words," Crook County head coach Mary Buell said. "This team has improved so much. It has mentally been difficult not having the scoreboard show that, so getting a win, I think the girls needed that to boost us into next year."

For the Cowgirls, the game could not have started much worse. The White Buffalos' Natalie Lockey intercepted a pass and scored just 24 seconds into the match to give Madras a 1-0 lead.

"The first thing I said to the girls after that goal is, 'Hey, that didn't happen. You are starting now. Ignore that.' And they did. It was good that we got it out of the way and were able to adjust our mindset."

As the first half went on, time of possession began to favor the Cowgirls, who finally found a way to score with 20 minutes remaining in the half on a goal by Salma Sacco. Just over six minutes later, Emily Ruiz scored for the Cowgirls to put Crook County up 2-1. That's the way the score remained at the half.

"It was nice scoring less than 30 seconds into the game, but yeah, we had some mistakes and you know I think mentally we weren't prepared and it cost us," Darrow said.

Six minutes into the second half, Sacco scored her second goal of the match, and of the season, as Crook County increased their lead to 3-1. The two teams played evenly the remainder of the match, although the White Buffalos attempted a late rally, putting a lot of pressure on the Crook County goal late in the match. But Madras was unable to score again and the Cowgirls came away with the win.

"It was amazing," said Crook County goalkeeper Lakyra Walker, Crook County's lone senior, of the win. "This is our first win in five years as a varsity program. We are finishing strong. It's like a family with our new coach and everyone was brought together more. We had more trust in each other. We have built a community. I'm just excited for the future, what the program has to offer."

As excited as Walker was, White Buffalo senior Natalie Lockey was disappointed with the loss.

"It was kind of hard," she said. "It was kind of heartbreaking. I thought we had lots of opportunities, but we didn't finish as well. I thought we still had a good season and played hard. I think next year will be more progress. I'm glad that we were still able to get some wins this season and I had a fun season with my teammates."

Buell, who has missed much of the season due to a family medical emergency, was pleased with how her team responded in the final match of the year.

"Leaving right after preseason was rough," she said. "I may or may not have cried, because I hated leaving these girls, with the amount of work they have been putting in. With that being said, I was still with them virtually watching their games and they are sponges. Their ability to take information in and execute it on the field, whether I'm there or not it has gotten them through the season. I introduced this formation yesterday with them, so they were playing a new formation they haven't done all season. They worked in practice all day yesterday doing it, and they executed it perfectly today and that's why we were able to shut down some of their key players, and that's why we were able to really play more of a high pressure more of an attack and have more goals scored. I'm going to be sad to lose Lykara next year, but I get everybody else back though, so having the off season I'm really excited for next year."

With the win the Cowgirls improved to 1-12 overall and 1-9 in conference play, while the White Buffalos dropped to 2-8-2 overall and 1-7-2 in conference play.

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