Molalla mounts historic comeback
Two minutes into the second half of its Class 4A quarterfinal boys soccer playoff match, Molalla looked like it wasn't to be their afternoon.
But the afternoon of Nov. 6 took a decidedly wicked turn right after Henley took a 3-0 lead, a turn that would see the Indians mount an historic comeback and punch their ticket into the semifinals with a 5-3 win over Henley.
It was, in a word, wild.
The Hornets scored five minutes into the match to make it 1-0, then went down a man when Molalla's Evan Hugo got chopped down just outside the box trying to beat the keeper. The red card for denial of a goal scoring opportunity left Henley with 10 players on the pitch, but it didn't seem to matter as they scored again in the 20th minute off a free kick.
Two minutes into the second half, Henley tagged on a third goal, leaving Molalla hanging on by a couple fingernails.
"My assistant Sergio Maldonado and I knew that even though we were down three, that man advantage was going to become a factor. We just needed to get one goal and the whole game would change," coach Ryan Gates said.
Turns out, the Indians were about to come storming back.
The comeback started with a wall pass between Martin Ruiz and Tony Morfin, with Morfin scoring the goal to make it 3-1.
"Once we got it, I knew we were going to win that game," Gates said. "The boys just kept fighting for each other. I played all but three of my players and each player that stepped onto that field worked hard for their teammates and even those that didn't get into the game supported their teammates, kept being positive and kept the energy high on the sidelines. It was that energy both off and on the field that helped propel the team to victory.
The second goal came after a pass across the top of the box to Nico Algoso Del Aqua, who ripped it into the back of the net. Blake Griffin then tied the match at 3-all with a nice move that beat a defender after a good pass from Antuan Peterson, sending this one into overtime.
In the extra time, it was all Molalla as Algoso scored off a Ruiz corner kick and a few minutes later Martin capped the comeback with a goal off a pass from Morfin.
"A huge support to us was the 29 students who rode a chartered bus all day, down and back, to cheer us on from the sidelines," Gates said. "The energy they had and the support they gave the boys gave my team that little extra to put us over the top."
Molalla, the 12th seed in the 4A bracket, will play at ninth-seeded Hidden Valley for a spot in the title game on Nov. 9. The winner will get either North Marion or Philomath in the title game on Nov. 13 at Liberty High School.
Hidden Valley is the No. 3 team out of the Skyline Conference and carry a 12-4 overall record into the semifinal tilt, which is scheduled for 4 p.m.
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