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League title hope fade with a pair of hard-fought losses to North Marion to close the shortened season

A pair of tough losses to North Marion during the final week of the season left the league title just out of the grasp of the Molalla High boys soccer squad.

Molalla lost to the Huskies by a 2-1 count on Tuesday, then fell by a 2-0 score Thursday in the season's final match.

"Two tough losses – we needed to win one to win the league," coach Ryan Gates said. "Tuesday was a back-and-forth affair with no scoring until the final 12 minutes of the game."

Molalla jumped into the lead when Aldo Avila cut back at the top of the box before firing a goal to the far post. Up 1-0 with time dwindling, Molalla couldn't hold the lead.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - A pair of hard-fought soccer matches with North Marion left Molalla just short of capturing the league title this week.

"North Marion applied pressure and my center back, Dakota Burke, slipped with eight minutes to go and allowed a 1 vs. 1 breakaway to level the scoring," Gates said. "Three minutes later North Marion was able to score when a shot took a deflection and ended up in the back of the net."

Thursday's match was no less tense as the league title was still on the line. Despite creating some chances, Molalla couldn't ripple the net.

"We were able to find our spots to take shots but nothing was truly dangerous," Gates said.

North Marion drew blood with five minutes to go in the first half when they scored on a counter-attack.

"In the second half, we threw everything we had at them," Gates said. "We took a defender off and added another attacking piece. They scored halfway through the second half on another counter-attack to put the game out of reach.

"We didn't quit and kept fighting to the end, which I am very proud of," Gates added.

And with that, the Molalla boy's soccer season came to an end.

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