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Senior claims hat trick, but official record does not include Tapia's third goal

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Madras senior Ethan Tapia had two goals in the Buffs' win over Corbett, per the official record. According to Tapia, however, he scored a third goal in the second half that was not included in the final scoreline.The Madras boys soccer team righted the ship on Wednesday, earning its first Tri-Valley victory of the season in a 6-1 win over Corbett. Seniors Ethan Tapia and Luis Benitez were involved in most of the scoring, with each players logging two goals. However, according to Tapia, he should have been credited with a hat trick.

"I swear I scored three goals," said Tapia during a postgame interview, although the official OSAA record disagrees. In addition to two confirmed goals from the winger, the other Madras scores came from a Corbett own goal, two goals from Benitez and one from Toby Byrd.

Still, regardless of whether Tapia is crediting himself with an extra goal, the fact remains that he was the major catalyst for the Buffs on Wednesday. Part of the reason for that is because he was asked by head coach Clark Jones to play on the attack against Corbett.

"I just had the right mentality that I'd play good today," said Tapia.

As for his pregame meal plan that led to all the scoring, Tapia said he didn't actually have one.

"I didn't have a good lunch," Tapia admitted with a laugh. "I didn't eat, but (assistant coach Scott Jividen) gave me a granola bar before the game. I think it was peanut butter."

Though it may not be the most nutritious feast, Tapia may want to stick to the granola bars if it leads to performances like he had against Corbett.

During the first part of the season, the senior has been helping to anchor the defense. However, with Adrian Marin earning a starting job on the back line and with a few sidelined players back in action, Jones had more flexibility to move Tapia around. In the second half, Jones took the senior captain out of his normal position on the flanks and tried him out at midfield.

"Our attacks were a lot more successful," said Jones on shuffling around his players, including Tapia, on Wednesday. "We were passing more effectively, and we positioned ourselves really well in terms of field spacing. We had good communication."

The scoring was opened just five minutes into the game when Tapia sent a cross through the penalty box that deflected off a Corbett player and into the back of the net for an own goal. In the eighth minute, Tapia raced downfield to catch up with a beautiful pass through the Cardinal defense from Benitez. After catching up to the ball, Tapia put a hard-hit shot past the Cardinals' keeper to make it 2-0 for Madras. Two minutes later, he repaid the favor to his fellow captain, setting Benitez up with a goal from a set piece at the northeast corner flag.

After that quick three-goal flurry for the Buffs, the action settled down for about twenty minutes before picking back up just before halftime. In the 32nd minute, a scramble for the ball began in the Corbett penalty box, resulting in Tapia tapping in his second goal of the evening — and the last one he would be officially credited with. Moments later, Madras stretched the lead to five when Benitez notched his own second goal thanks to an assist from freshman Eben Tapia, who manned the other wing for Madras. Benitez currently leads the team with five goals on the season.

Already holding onto a big lead, Jones moved to his bench in the second half. The coach is a firm believer in using his reserves once games get out of hand, whether Madras is winning or losing. It is a way for the coach to preserve the health and stamina of his starters, while also giving more inexperienced players a chance at live action against varsity opponents.

"No reason to get kids hurt in a game where you know you can win, and no reason to eight-goal someone, either, I don't think," Jones added, in reference to the OSAA rule that soccer contests must be stopped once one team leads by eight.

"You can use it to learn things," Jones said in regard to his strategy to use younger players when the game gets out of reach. "This is a game where we tried to use the second half to learn some things, to practice some stuff."

One of the main beneficiaries of that approach was Madras junior Toby Byrd. After Corbett pulled closer with their first goal — a 53rd minute strike that came off a fast-paced counter-attack — Madras went back up by five goals 15 minutes later. After corralling a ball, emergency goalkeeper Gilbert Palacios boomed a long drop-kick deep into Corbett's half of the field. Byrd found himself on the end of the ball, and after working his way through a couple defenders, the junior reserve put one past the goalie for his first goal of the season. The sequence also leads to the rare event of a goalkeeper being credited with an assist.

It is worth noting that Palacios was playing in goal as the team's regular goalies recover from injuries. Ethan Nava, who normally starts in goal, did see some time in the outfield for Madras; however, Jones felt it more appropriate to go with Palacios on Wednesday.

"He stepped up," Jones said of how Palacios played in the net. "The one goal (by Corbett) was probably not his fault."

As for Tapia's phantom goal — which Jones began to vaguely recall as his senior recounted the play in further detail — it would have come sometime in the second half between the two goals that were officially recorded in the period.

"The first one didn't count, because that was an own goal," said Tapia. "Then I scored two more in the first half and the last one in the second half. We were like 15 minutes into the second half. I took everyone on in the middle and then I just hit in the corner."

Considering the official tally does not include this seventh goal — and it was likewise not captured in the Pioneer's game notes — Tapia's second-half score may forever live as a contested piece of history at Madras High.

The Buffs improved to 3-4-1 on the season and 1-2-1 in the Tri-Valley. Madras will continue its climb back toward the top of the league leaderboards when they take on Gladstone on Tuesday, Oct. 5. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Gladstone High School. The Gladiators' record now sits at 2-5-1 (1-3-0 Tri-Valley) following a 5-1 loss to Molalla on Wednesday.

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