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Trailing by a goal early, Buffs score three straight, hold on for 3-2 win over Sisters Outlaws

TONY AHERN  - Madras players Steve Gonzalez, 11, and David Diaz, 14, can't get the ball near the goal during the first half of the Buffs' 3-2 win over Sisters Aug. 30 in Madras. The goals came in flurries Tuesday when the Madras White Buffalos and the Sisters Outlaws met on the Madras field.

But the White Buffs scored three consecutive goals, and controlled most of the second half, to win the season opener 3-2.

Madras coach Clark Jones said he thought his young team played well in the first game, but even with the win, came away with plenty of areas they could improve upon.

"I am concerned about two things: defensively, we need to not let quick attacks get through; and we need to execute better on offense — we had a few offsides calls and missed some easy shots and a penalty kick. To move to the next level, we need to take advantages of opportunities when they are there," said the coach.

Sisters, ranked No. 10 in the 3A boys soccer poll, controlled much of the early play and got on the board first at the seven-minute mark of the first half, when Carson Bell pumped in a shot from straight away.

The goal either ignited the Madras office or softened Sisters' defense. The Buffs' Steve Gonzalez got deep with the ball just a minute after the Sisters goal and evened the game with a sharp shot from about 15 yards from the net. The sophomore had an outstanding game on the offensive end for the Buffs.

Just four minutes after kicking his first goal, Gonzalez, just a sophomore, pocketed his second, giving Madras a 2-1 lead.

Madras goal-tender Esteban Pacheco also had a steady match. Outside of the middle part of the first half, when Gonzalez and the Buffs controlled the offensive action, Sisters had the attacking advantage throughout most of the first 40 minutes. But tough defense and Pacheco's tending kept the Outlaws from reaching the back of the net again.

With temperatures around 100 degrees, halftime brought a welcome break.

"I think we were a little tentative at the beginning of the game. That part actually is experience. Once we figured out that we could outrun their defense, things changed and the kids had a little more swagger," said Jones.

Madras came out in the second looking like the more fit team. As Sisters was the better attacker in the first half, the Buffs controlled most of the second.

Eban Tapia, another sophomore leader on the squad, put Madras up 3-1 with a nice shot from the left angle that went over the tender's head and into the right side of the net.

As the second half went on, Gonzalez, who Sisters focused on controlling, had a few more shots on goal that just missed or were gobbled by the Sisters tender.

Near the midpoint in the second half, Gonzalez had a chance to virtually ice it when Sisters was called for a penalty. Gonzalez lined up for a penalty kick, but his shot went right at the goal-tender, who collected it.

Moments later, though, Gonzalez scored what appeared to be his third goal of the match. However, officials whistled an off-sides.

Down 3-1, Sisters kicked up their hustle and put on a final offensive push.

The Outlaws' Vincent Christian, a junior, smoked a shot from 20 yards out that hooked just inside the right post for a score. Christian's goal came just after Madras had changed goal-tenders, Javier Castro came in for Pacheco. But Christian's shot would have tough for any tender.

Minutes later, Christian was again in position for a game-tying goal, though defended, but his shot went high and wide.

Time soon expired and the White Buffalos — powered by a core of sophomores this season — had a season-opening victory.

"Steve, Eben, Andres Pineda, Ozzy Castenada ran a pretty good attack. Pablo Olivera started at centerback and played the whole game. He has never had any varsity playing time before and stepped up. Gio Diaz and Fernando Saldana came off the bench and made a pretty big impact. At the end of the game when David Diaz cramped up, Hunter Carpen came in and made some big defensive stops," said Jones.

The Buffs' next scheduled game is against Junction City in Madras Tuesday, Sept. 6, beginning at 5 p.m.

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