For head coach Shawn Darrow and the Madras girls' soccer team, a new season — and newfound hope — is on the horizon.
During the shortened season the team had this past spring, the White Buffalos jumped out to a promising start, scoring two goals in the first half against Tri-Valley Conference powerhouse Molalla. Unfortunately for Madras, those two goals would be the only ones scored all year long. The Buffs eventually finished with a record of 0-7-2, with those two ties coming in the opener against Molalla and two games later in a 0-0 home draw with Estacada.
"It was rough," said Darrow. "We got those two early goals against Molalla — that's the first time we've ever scored against them while I've been here — and then didn't score again for the rest of the season."
That reality has led Darrow to tinker with his strategies as the team prepares to take the pitch this fall. He still expects to run a 4-4-2 formation, where four defenders and four midfielders work in support of two forwards, but the team will look to be more aggressive on offense after last year.
Goals may be hard to come by in the Tri-Valley Conference this year, though. Darrow listed North Marion and Gladstone as other Tri-Valley powers. He also pointed out that the Tri-Valley Conference consistently receives two first-round byes in the state playoffs, whereas most leagues only get one.
"We play in one of the toughest leagues in the state."
It is not all doom and gloom for MHS girls' soccer, though. Among the six returning seniors on the team is standout midfielder Brooke Delamarter, who will serve as captain for the team. Delamarter has been a varsity starter since her freshman season.
"Brooke is a fantastic leader," said Darrow. "She's a first-team all-league talent, and she's our captain."
Darrow continued to praise Delamarter for her leadership, saying, "Brooke is very inclusive, very supportive of her teammates."
Among those teammates are five other seniors: Isabelle Ludi, a wing midfielder with "great speed and a strong left foot," according to Darrow; Yienesis Cruz, who is stepping into a new role as lead defender on the back line; Cha Cha Ramirez, who is starting to find her voice as she assumes a leadership role on the squad; Simyan David, a goalkeeper who Darrow expects to take a step forward this season; and Amissa Anderson, a left back who missed last season but could play an important role this year.
After a difficult season in the spring, the White Buffalos are excited to get back out on the grass to make some better memories for themselves. With a large, promising freshman class joining up with a strong group of seniors, the team could see success on the pitch sooner rather than later.
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