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Strong defensive effort helps Buffs hold Cardinals' potent offense to just one goal

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Brooke Delamarter, with ball, and Simyan David helped Madras to hold No. 5 Corbett to just one goal last week.The Madras girls soccer team had its best defensive showing of the season last Thursday, holding No. 5 Corbett to just a single goal in a 1-0 defeat. It was a full team effort from the Buffs, who move to 1-7-0 on the season and 0-4 in Tri-Valley play. Though the result goes down as a loss for Madras, head coach Shawn Darrow said that the match was one of the few times he would entertain the notion of "moral victories."

"I'm usually not one that's big on moral victories," said Darrow after the loss, "but I was very pleased with their performance this game."

The White Buffalos are mired in a seven-game losing streak at the moment, but Darrow is hopeful that the team's effort against Corbett marked a new beginning for Madras.

"I really hope that this was a bit of a turning point for us," Darrow said. "Hopefully we can continue to stay competitive in our league games the rest of the season and keep getting better. It wasn't a win, but it's still a game we can build off of."

The marked difference in this game for the Buffs was how their defense performed. In the six games that followed Madras' season-opening shutout against Crook County, the team gave up an average of 7.5 goals per game. That changed last Thursday when the defense stood up to the Cardinals, who are currently No. 5 in the OSAA mathematical rankings.

"It's kind of hard to describe the difference in play from this team last night," said Darrow. "It was like things finally clicked for them as a defensive unit. The communication on the field was excellent which helped the team to stay marked up on their players."

"Our defense was huge," he added. "They worked so well together in the back."

The defensive unit was led by senior captains Yienesis Cruz and Brooke Delamarter, as well as sophomores Sasha Esquiro and Heidi Sedano. That grouping gives Darrow two veteran leaders and two talented young players who have quickly become essential parts of the team. As for senior goalkeeper Simyan David, Darrow said that she "more than made for" allowing Corbett's only goal.

"It actually wasn't a great goal," said Darrow of the Cardinals' game-winner in the 55th minute. "A bit of a lapse, but she more than made up for it with some other incredible saves, especially on their one real breakaway, in which she got just enough a hand on the shot to push it wide."

In addition to the players in the back, Madras' midfielders also turned in a solid performance on defense.

"Our center midfielders did a great job of getting back and helping as well," Darrow said. The midfield is run by senior Cha Cha Ramirez, whose strength provides an advantage in 50-50 balls, as well as juniors Natalie Lockey and Emily King, whose speed allows them to push forward in the Buffs' attack. While that attack did not produce any goals against Corbett, Ramirez held her own on defense.

"Cha Cha had a phenomenal game in the middle," Darrow said of his senior midfielder. "It seemed like she was all over the field and had really strong challenges on the ball that stopped several opponents from advancing throughout the game."

As for the lack of venom in the Madras offense, Darrow noted that he went to a more conservative gameplan in order to keep Corbett off the board. For the most part, it worked.

"We changed up our formation a bit coming into the game," said the coach. "It was more defense-heavy, but we still had a couple of opportunities on counter-attacks. (Corbett) definitely possessed the ball more than we did but even with that, they still didn't have very many great opportunities for goals because we did such a good job of marking players in the middle."

Madras played against Gladstone (7-1-0, 3-1-0) on Tuesday evening, however the results of that match were not available at press time. That tilt with the Gladiators came on the road, and it was also the White Buffalos' only match in a light week of action. Going into the match, Gladstone was 7-1-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state's 4A classification, according to the OSAA's metrics.

Madras will be back in action again on Tuesday, Oct. 12, when they travel to Molalla. The Indians came to MHS and won 6-1 on Sept. 21, so the Buffs will be looking to repay the favor in the return match.

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