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A late goal from freshman Steve Hernandez sealed MHS's win in the season opener

LON AUSTIN/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Madras freshman Hansel 'Steve' Gonzalez, in white, jostles with a Crook County opponent during a 3-2 win.The Madras boys' soccer team got their season started on the right foot with a 3-2 last week over neighboring Crook County. Hansel "Steve" Gonzalez scored his first-ever goal for MHS late in the second half to seal the victory for the Buffs.

"Overall, I don't think the score reflects how well we played," said head coach Clark Jones after the game. "We actually controlled possession for the majority of the game and out-shot Crook County by a wide margin. We just didn't finish."

In addition to some rusty shooting, the team also struggled at times in the mental aspects of the game, according to Jones.

"We will need to work on a few things — some communication and focus issues," said the coach.

That said, the team had good reason to be somewhat distracted. In the opening minutes of the JV game played just before the varsity match, one of Madras' players suffered a gruesome leg injury that forced him to be taken to the hospital.

"The players responded pretty well to seeing a JV player get carted off the field in an ambulance," said Jones.

Madras opened the scoring in the first half, with the first goal of the new season coming off a set piece. Freshman midfielder Eben Tapia delivered a corner kick into the Crook County box, which was put away by junior Yael Carlon. The Buffs took that 1-0 lead into halftime.

After the break, Madras struck again quickly. This time, Eben Tapia found himself on the scoring end thanks to an assist from senior midfielder Israel Estrada.

However, not long after Madras jumped out to that 2-0 advantage — commonly referred to by soccer coaches as "the most dangerous lead in soccer" — the team conceded two goals to the Cowboys. That tie score forced the Buffs to continue pushing throughout the full 80 minutes. Eventually, the freshman Gonzalez was able to get the game-winner off an assist from Luis Benitez.

Madras' season continued Tuesday, Sept. 7, with a trip to Sisters. The results of that game were not available before press time. The White Buffalos will host Caldera at MHS for their home opener at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

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