Molalla eliminated in first round of boys soccer playoffs
STAYTON — Molalla sophomore Martin Ruiz got behind Stayton's defense and put the ball in the back of the net to tie No. 5 Stayton 1-1 just five minutes into Wednesday's game.
But it was all downhill from there for the No. 12 Indians, who lost 8-1 in the first round of the Class 4A boys soccer playoffs.
"Throughout the season, once they scored that early goal, if we were down, we just hung our heads right away because we thought the game was over," Ruiz said. "But this time it should have been different. We came out stronger after they scored (the first goal) and that's what we should have kept the mentality with."
Instead, the Eagles scored six goals in the first 32 minutes to take a commanding 6-1 lead at halftime.
"This is probably the hardest team we've played all season," Ruiz said. "They were good with the ball movement. They were good with the touch and they're all gifted technically."
Molalla did not have many chances after Ruiz's goal.
"They were man-to-man marking me and gave me no breathing room, so I had to create my space, even then my teammates couldn't find me," Ruiz said.
Molalla entered the playoffs after suffering back-to-back losses to Madras and Gladstone to close the regular season.
"They're (Stayton) a state championship caliber team and we didn't end the season in a way that we could build to this," Molalla coach Ryan Gates said. "We came into it trying to find a way to get back to playing our best and we just didn't find it. They're not the fifth best team. They're probably the best team in the state. They possess the ball. They have quick transitions, the through balls in the back. They know how to play as a team."
The game was the first playoff experience for nearly all of Molalla's players after the Indians graduated 11 seniors off of last year's team.
Molalla will return 16 varsity players next year.
"It was really overwhelming," Ruiz said. "It was exciting. It was nerve-racking. We wanted it bad, but I don't think we wanted it bad enough."
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