Buffs wins Tri-Valley soccer title
The Madras White Buffalo soccer squad clinched the Tri-Valley Conference championship Friday with a thrilling 3-2 win over The Dalles in what became the school's Homecoming game.
After The Dalles canceled the rest of its 2022 football season last week and forfeited its game with Madras that was to be the MHS Homecoming, a soccer match between the two schools, one that was set to be played in The Dalles Saturday, was moved to the Friday night and to Madras, allowing MHS to have a Homecoming athletic event.
It was soccer instead of football, but those whoÂ braved the rain saw a great high school athletic event and the home team celebrating a league title on the field with fans and family.
A steady rain helped drive a scoreless first half. After the crowning of the Homecoming king and queen, the rain slowed then stopped altogether, and the fans were subsequently treated to an offensive explosion.
After scoring just one goal in its last two games — and coming off a 2-0 home loss to Molalla the night before — the Buffs' offense was in a deep funk. The magic that had led them to an 8-1 record seemed missing. In the first half, The Dalles were the more aggressive and smooth team, getting several shots on goal and controlling most of the action. Madras hardly threatened in the first half and goalkeeper Javier Castro had to make a few stops to keep the Riverhawks off the board.
When Riverhawk freshman Juan Camarillo got free on the right flank for a clean shot, The Dalles took a 1-0 lead at the 32:38 mark in the second half. The score dampened the crowd's enthusiasm, which had been steady up to that point.Â
At the 23:52 mark, one of the Buffalo defensive leaders, Gustavo Santellano, picked up a yellow card and headed to the bench. But from there until the final moments of the game, it was all Madras.
Sophomore Steve Gonzalez, the Buffalos' offensive leader, has been well-defended in recent games, after scorching the league through the first half of the season. About 30 seconds after Santellano's yellow card, Gonzalez finally found some room and maneuvered the ball into scoring position then rifled in a scoring shot from the right side. The crowd erupted and the Buffalo swagger was back.
"The reality of our league is that we play everyone twice, and Steve kind of put on a show the first half. He has been doubled or triple teamed and we have not been able to capitalize on that," said Buff coach Clark Jones. "However, I also think that when they pay attention to Steve like that, it takes something from their attack."
Madras kept the offensive pressure on. At the 18:30 mark, Gonzalez had another great shot that looked like it might reach the net, but The Dalles goalkeeper Luciano Alvarado dove to his left and caught the kick while flying through the air, keeping the game tied.
Just inside 13 minutes left, the Buffs' Eben Tapia got control right in front of the net and was fouled, setting up a penalty kick at 12:22. Tapia, another sophomore offensive leader for Madras, ripped a shot past Alvarado and Madras led 2-1.Â
The crowd had hardly stopped cheering before Gonzalez got control of the ball again on the right side, worked his way into scoring position and drilled another shot past Alvarado and just under the bar, making it 3-1 at the 12:22 mark.Â
Madras nearly made it 4-1 a minute later, but Alvarado stopped that shot on goal.
The final 10 minutes of the game Madras focused on maintaining its defense. The Dalles got in a contested scrum goal with two minutes left, making it a one-score game, and they had another late scoring opportunity erased by an offsides call.Â Â
Soon thereafter, the official signaled game over, the Buffs had clinched the league title, soon setting off friends, fans and families celebrating with the team midfield.Â
Loss to Molalla
A crazy week contributed to the Buffs' first loss since Sept. 20 when Molalla came to Madras and left with a 2-0 victory Thursday.
The week started with the Buffs traveling to The Dalles for a game Tuesday, only to have it canceled when no officials had been lined up.
On Wednesday, The Dalles canceled the remainder of its football season, and forfeited the Friday game at Madras. The forfeit caused plenty of consternation with the football program and planning issues for the high school regarding what to do with the student and public elements around the Homecoming game.
In response, The Dalles allowed the soccer game, which had been rescheduled to Saturday, to be played in Madras and on Friday night, making the soccer game the de facto Homecoming game for MHS.
All the drama played a role in Madras being very flat in their game against Molalla on Thursday. Molalla, which has won three and tied one of their last four games, were ready to take advantage and upset the Buffs.
"We didn't really show up. Not a lot of focus, and consequently not a huge amount of effort. I think the players were looking past Molalla and way more interested in playing (the Homecoming game)," said coach Clark Jones.
Molalla scored a goal in the first half to take a 1-0 lead at the break. Jones blamed the goal on the defenders not pressuring well enough. The second goal was in the second half was a quick job up the middle.
"I don't think we owned the midfield as much as we should have," said Jones.
The offense for the Buffs has not been stellar lately. In building their 6-2 league mark, Madras three times won games 1-0 and another 2-0. Two wins that Madras scored four goals — 4-2 over The Dalles on Sept. 26 and 4-1 over Crook County on Oct. 4 — were in the first round of league action. Each team plays each other twice in the Tri-Valley Conference, and offense has been more scarce the second time around.
For certain, defense has been the strength of the team. Following the 5-3 loss to Estacada on Sept. 20 that kicked off league action, Madras has outscored its league rivals 13-5, including four shutouts.
The Buffs last game of the regular season was Tuesday against Crook County (1-11-1 overall this year) but results were unavailable at press time.
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