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Buffs first lose 6-1 at home to Molalla and then 6-0 on the road against Estacada

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Emily King, with ball, and the rest of the White Buffalos had a rough start to Tri-Valley play this past week.The Madras girls soccer team is still in search of its first Tri-Valley victory after dropping games to Molalla and Estacada this week. The Buffs lost 6-1 at home on Tuesday against the Indians, before going on the road and falling 6-0 on the Rangers' turf. Senior forward Isabelle Ludi scored Madras' only goal of the two-game set thanks to a Natalie Lockey assist.

On Tuesday, the White Buffalos played in front of the home crowd in their Tri-Valley opener against Molalla. The Indians scored after just 90 seconds and added two more quick goals to give themselves a 3-0 cushion after just ten minutes. The Buff defense withstood the pressure for the next half hour, but Molalla was able to score one more goal just before the halftime whistle.

"I don't think that the first half in this game was indicative of what our teams are comparatively," said Darrow. "I think 4-0 was a bit harsh for what it should have been. It didn't need to be that bad."

The defense put on another solid performance in the second half, holding off the Molalla attack for another thirty minutes before conceding two more goals in the 70th and 75th minutes. However, in the waning minutes of the game, Madras finally nabbed a goal to ruin the Indians' clean sheet.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Madras senior Isabelle Ludi, right, picked up her first goal of the season on Tuesday against Molalla.Junior midfielder Natalie Lockey crossed a ball from the right wing toward the center, which bounced across the goal mouth and found the foot of Ludi on the left side of the penalty box. The senior forward put the ball away with a well-placed strike past the Molalla keeper.

"We played much better in the second half," said Darrow. "We had to shore some things up, go back to more of our traditional defense again. We put Brooke (Delamarter) back there."

After getting on the scoreboard against Molalla, the White Buffalos had no such luck as they went scoreless against Estacada on Thursday. The Rangers split their goal-scoring evenly across both halves in the 6-0 win, netting three in each stanza.

Despite the gawdy deficits, these most recent losses do in fact represent an improvement for the Buffs as compared to the previous week. The White Buffalos' final non-league games were both ended early when their opponents, Caldera and Redmond, achieved an eight-goal lead. The Buffs have gone the full 80 minutes in both Tri-Valley games so far, though.

The progress may seem meager, but for a young team that does not have the club experience that many of their opponents do, there is going to be a learning curve to playing together.

"It's a work in progress," said Madras head coach Shawn Darrow after the Molalla game.

Considering where the program was last year, it is a fact that the offense has been more consistently productive, and Darrow is encouraged by what he is seeing out of his new, young defenders such as Sasha Esquiro.

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Madras defenders Brooke Delamarter (7) and Sasha Esquiro have shown flashes of brilliance on the Buffs' back line."I think Sasha's really learning the game on the outside," Darrow said of the sophomore fullback. "It's taken her a little bit to figure out positioning, but I can see that she'll be better by the end of the season for sure. She's learning new tricks and things every time. I love her aggressiveness."

Still, Darrow would like to see the team be more assertive and confident on the field.

"I definitely notice in our thought-making process that we're doubting ourselves a little bit," the coach noted. "We're struggling a little bit there. We can string together a few nice plays, but then we'll have a mental lapse."

Madras (1-5-0, 0-2-0 Tri-Valley) has two more chances to get its first league victory next week, but they face stiff competition. First, they host North Marion (3-2-1, 1-1-0 TVC) on Monday, Sept. 27. Then on Wednesday, Sept. 29, the Buffs travel to face undefeated Corbett (6-0-0-, 2-0-0 TVC). The Cardinals are currently ranked No. 8 in the state's 4A classification, according the OSAA's mathematical rankings. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Monday and 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

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