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Last-minute goal helps La Grande beat Madras White Buffalo boys soccer team 1-0 during away matchup.

STEELE HAUGEN - The Madras White Buffalo boys soccer team lost a play-in game 1-0 to La Grande Nov. 1.The Madras boys soccer team made the postseason and played at La Grande Nov. 1. La Grande was able to score at the very end of the game to beat the Buffs 1-0 and move on to the state playoff bracket.

"We went in and honestly, we felt really good about the matchup and thought we would be faster and more talented than they were," head coach Clark Jones said. "I thought we were, however, we ran into an issue with injuries, so both the middle defenders were out. We had to move some puzzle pieces around and we you borrow players from other positions, it leaves deficient for the other positions. I don't think we defended the midfield as well as we should have and that led to not having very many good chances (to score)."

"On the plus side, we pretty much dominated possession most of the game, but it doesn't do any good to possess the ball if you can't put it in the net," he said. "They put a dribbler in, the goalie dove for it. We made a mistake at the midfield, let somebody through. It was one of those things and I would have never thought of this at the start of the year, but we kind of ran out of bodies."

"Those are hard games to lose," Jones said. "You control everything you can for most of the game and then have one slip up and the end of the game. La Grande ended up stealing the game from us."

Madras also played Estacada Oct. 29 in their last regular season game of the year and lost to the Rangers 5-2.

"We went into the game not prepared and they were because it was their senior night," Jones said. "The parody in the league is so much better than it has been in the past. They protected their own and took it to us. We stunk up the joint to tell you the truth. It was not a good game. We had speed and skill, but lacked in experience. Sometimes the best way to gain experience is the hard way and I think we got it the hard way this year."

The White Buffalos boys soccer squad ended the season with a 7-6-2 overall record, ranked No. 20, finishing in fourth in a tough Tri-Valley Conference.

"It is more like the old days, ten years ago and I didn't believe this until I went to my first coaches meeting 10 years ago, but a coach came up to me and said this is the Tri-Valley, anybody can beat anybody," Jones said. "Sure enough, that is the way it was for a long time."

"I am not going to say disappointed in terms of this year," he said. "I really believed in the kids and I know they believed in themselves and that is really the hard part. We feel as a whole, we were a really talented team, we just weren't able to put everything together."

Madras will be losing some key seniors, but still have talented, young returners for next season.

"I am hoping next year, we have players that have learned from past experiences," said Jones. "What we are going to talk about next year is, what is your commitment level here? What are you willing to do and give up to be successful? One of the things is and I have good teams in the past that I didn't have to manage. I didn't have to react to various different things , minor misbehavior issues. I think that is where our focus needs to be."

"We have the potential to be very strong next year," he said. "We have a lot of talent, a lot of sophomore that saw a decent amount of playing time that will only get better. I think we can refocus and get everyone together. I am hoping we can develop another set of leaders."

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