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The Huskies sent the game to overtime behind a flurry of scoring late in regulation before falling 4-3 in penalty kicks

PHIL HAWKINS - (File photo) North Marion sophomore Hailey Welch scored two goals in the final eight minutes of regulation to help the Huskies force overtime against the La Grande Tigers on Wednesday.The North Marion girls soccer team nearly pulled off the upset of the 2018 4A state playoffs, but instead will go home, their season once again cut short prematurely.

The Huskies fell 4-3 in penalty kicks to the No. 2 La Grande Tigers on Wednesday, taking the first round game to extra time behind intense offensive effort at the end of regulation.

Trailing 1-0 with less than 10 minutes left in the second half, North Marion sophomore Hailey Welch tied the game 1-1. The Huskies had little time to celebrate before the Tigers answered at the other end of the field a minute later, retaking the lead 2-1.

But the Huskies would not go down easily, and Welch came up with another dramatic score to tie the game at 2-2 and send the contest into overtime.

Neither team was able to score in the two extra periods and the game was decided on penalty kicks, where the Tigers prevailed to win their 13th consecutive game of the season to remain unbeaten and advance to the state quarterfinals.

It was an early exit from the playoffs for a North Marion team (8-6-2, 5-4-1 Tri-Valley) that entered the season looking to improve upon last year's team that won a league title and entered the post season as the top-ranked team in the state only to fall at home in the quarterfinals.

The Huskies returned most of their players from last season, but suffered through injuries early in the season, going 1-3-2 in a stretch through most of September.

North Marion rebounded toward the end of the season, going 6-3 over the final month of play, including a 4-0 victory over the Phoenix Pirates in the play-in round to earn a first round match against a dominant Tigers team.

La Grande entered the contest with their own title aspirations as the lone unbeaten program left in the 4A classification, having given up just two goals all season.

The Tigers looked to take control early against the Huskies at Eastern Oregon University, taking an advantage of an early injury to North Marion starting keeper Alex McArthur 14 minutes into the game, scoring 10 minutes later.

But the Huskies repelled any further efforts by the Tigers and held firm until Welch's goal tied the game in the 72nd minute and sent both teams into a flurry of goals to end the game.

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