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White Buffalos hang tough with Estacada but fall at home in 1-0 defensive stalemate

PMG PHOTO: ANDY DIECKHOFF - Madras senior Brooke Delamarter clears a ball out of the defense as teammate Emily King looks on. Shawn Darrow has been using some of his most skilled players, including Delamarter and King, as defensive pieces.The Madras girls soccer team is showing flashes of life on both ends of the pitch, but the team has struggled to put it all together for a full match. The duality of the Buffs' squad was on display last week.

The White Buffalos were able to find the net in a 5-1 loss to Molalla, a somewhat rare occasion on the season. Natalie Lockey scored the goal for Madras, continuing her run of being involved in every Buffs goal this year, either by directly scoring or assisting on the shot.

Then, on Thursday, Madras found themselves mired in a defensive donnybrook with Estacada, which resulted in a 1-0 loss for the Buffs.

"I think we've figured some things out as far as positioning," said head coach Shawn Darrow. "Just understanding the game a little better has helped a lot."

Since the opening practice of the season, Darrow has preached a defensive philosophy for his club. Those teachings haven't always come through on the pitch, but when they do, the Buffs can cause headaches for opposing attackers.

"We're defending a lot better one-on-one," Darrow continued. "Not just letting them by, but slowing them down and forcing them to take long shots. Not making the game as easy for them."

Darrow says the team is showing progress in other areas of the game, as well, chiefly in the fields of communication and focus.

"We're getting people into good spots," said the coach. "And trying to play the ball with a purpose instead of just booting it, that's helping."

Due to Heidi Sedano's absence from the starting lineup, junior midfielder Emily King moved onto the back line in her place.

"She's playing really well there," noted Darrow. "Even if we end up having Heidi the rest of the season, we may just leave Emily there and get Heidi more central so we can get a little bit more of an attack going."

The problem that Darrow has had throughout the season is that he has had to put some of his most experienced and confident players in defense. That leaves the attack relatively toothless when players like senior captains Yienesis Cruz and Brooke Delamarter are unable to help initiate the offense. The flip-side, though, is putting more inexperienced players on defense — a dangerous proposition for a team currently conceding nearly six goals per match.

With time running out on this season, the White Buffalos are well out playoff contention at 1-10 overall and 0-7 in Tri-Valley play.

That being said, the squad can still play spoiler in the race for the TVC crown. Each of the Buffs' final three opponents are in the thick of a Tri-Valley title race that hinges on the final week of league matches.

Following Tuesday's match at North Marion (results not available at press time) the White Buffalos are back in Madras on Thursday night for the team's Senior Night game against Corbett. The Buffs played well in the first match with the Cardinals, holding them to just one goal on the day.

Madras' season finale comes on Tuesday, Oct. 26, when the team heads to Gladstone to take on the formidable Gladiators.

Gladstone currently sits atop the Tri-Valley with a record of 6-1, while North Marion's mark of 5-2 puts the Huskies in second place. Corbett is in third at 4-2-1.

Kickoff for Senior Night at Madras High School is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 21.

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