You're going to get tested.
That's what the playoffs are all about.
The La Salle boys soccer teams knows that to be true but got a powerful reminder of it Saturday, Nov. 6, when the top-ranked Falcons battled past No. 8 Silverton 1-0 at La Salle High School.
"We definitely know that there are things we could have done better," said La Salle senior defender and team captain Aidan O'Brien. "We shifted up a little bit in the second half and we were able to get a goal and possess from there on, so we'll take what we learned and move on."
"They were playing more defensive in the back, so it was definitely hard to break through them," said senior forward Mizael Harris, who assisted on his team's lone goal. "I think being able to pass through them the second half and get more chances was definitely beneficial for us."
With the win — the team's seventh straight — the Falcons improved to 14-1-1 overall and extended their unbeaten streak to nine games after winning the Northwest Oregon Conference. Silverton, meanwhile, lost for the second time in its last three games and finished its year at 8-3-5 after finishing fourth in the Mid-Willamette Conference.
While neither team scored in Saturday's first half, it wasn't for lack of opportunity — at least not on La Salle's half of the field. The Falcons got a handful of shots from sophomore midfielder Kevin Serrano-Maldonado and five corner kicks in the final 20 minutes of the half — but none of them found the net, their efforts frustrated by Silverton keeper Brady Mykisen and senior defender and team captain Solomon Moore.
But finally, after 40 minutes of frustration in the first half and another 17 minutes without a goal in the second half, the Falcons broke through. Harris sent a corner kick into the Foxes' penalty box from the left side, and when Mykisen tipped the ball off the crossbar and fell down, La Salle freshman forward Vance Sheffield knocked the ball into the right corner of the goal.
"It was just being in the right spot," Sheffield said. "I knew (Harris) was going to play back post because that's what we practice, so I was just in the right spot and the keeper deflected it and that was it."
While the Falcons continued to dominate possession and created the majority of offensive attacks the rest of the way, there was some additional excitement to come. With just three minutes left to play, after a long Silverton throw-in from the right side, Foxes junior midfielder Jason Leon challenged La Salle senior keeper Parker English from short range, but English snuffed out Leon's attack and the Falcons escaped to win 1-0.
"There's always going to be a little bit of anxiety once you get in one of these games and the time's ticking away, but you've just got to remain calm and access the guys up top," O'Brien said.
"I think (the key is) the way we come to practice," Harris said. "We push each other every single day, so when we come against teams, we want their best, and they play their best against us and it helps us."
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