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Huskies rally from 2-0 deficit, score three goals in second half to shock previously unbeaten Eagles.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion head coach Carlos Perez celebrates the team's 3-2 victory over the No. 1 Stayton Eagles on Saturday. The No. 9 Huskies advance to the 4A state semifinals on Tuesday at No. 5 Ontario.It took just 10 minutes to shift the fortunes of No. 9 North Marion and No. 1 Stayton in Saturday's 4A boys soccer state quarterfinal contest.

Leading 2-0 following Addison Samuell's 47th-minute goal, the Eagles needed to hold their advantage for a half hour to maintain their unbeaten record and continue on their state championship aspirations.

But the Huskies had other ideas.

Facing a team that had shut them out twice in the regular season and given up just five goals all year, North Marion rallied for three scores in the blink of an eye to upset the Eagles 3-2 and advance to its third straight state semifinal.

"With the help of God, we triumphed and we got the victory," junior Aden Carrillo said. "With those first two goals, we put our heads down for a moment, but as captains as we are, as North Marion leaders, we didn't put our heads down no matter what. We are fighters. We don't give up for nothing."

Carrillo played a part in the first two goals to help launch the comeback, striking first in the 53rd minute when senior goalkeeper Jonathan Vallejo booted the ball over most of the Stayton defense deep into Eagle territory. Carrillo streaked down the field, gathered the ball in the right corner and passed it in front of the goal box where senior teammate Cole Boughal was waiting to strike it home and cut the deficit to 2-1.

Carrillo then found an opening three minutes later with a grounder in traffic that snuck through the left side of the net to tie the game.

"Those two goals really gave us momentum to persevere and triumph," Carrillo said.

With a light rain coming down, Stayton renewed its attack that had kept the ball in North Marion territory for much of the match. However, the Eagles pressured too hard, leaving an opening in the 62nd minute for North Marion's Alexis Lopez, who saw Stayton keeper Luis Mejia drifting too close to midfield.

"I just saw him out of his line, and I knew this turf was slippery, so I just let it rip," Lopez said.

The junior defender gathered a shot from 60-plus yards out and lofted it toward the Eagles' goal. The ball bounced on the turf and over Mejia's outstretched hands, continuing into the back of the net for the game-winning goal.

"I saw that opening," Lopez said. "I hit it a little bit wrong, but it still went in."

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - The North Marion bench celebrates after teammate Alexis Lopez lofted a shot from more than 60 yards away that bounced over the Stayton keepers head into the back of the net for the game-winning goal in the 63rd minute.PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion teammates converge on Alexis Lopez following the junior defender's game-winning goal from the other side of the field in the 62nd minute.The victory for North Marion is only the latest in the Huskies' rivalry with Stayton since joining the Oregon West Conference in 2014.

The Huskies immediately clashed with the Stayton boys soccer team. The two programs were co-league champions in North Marion's first year and met in the finals, where the Huskies prevailed 2-0 for the school's first state championship trophy in the sport.

The two teams fought for four years until North Marion returned to the Tri-Valley from 2018 to 2021. The Huskies and Eagles each claimed league titles from their respective conferences for the past three seasons until North Marion returned to the Oregon West in 2022.

"I think for us, it was going to be a challenge to get adjusted to quality teams," Perez said. "We think some games are easy, but there is no easy game in the Oregon West."

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion junior defender Will Orr challenges Stayton forward Ismael Esparza for possession in the first half against the previously unbeaten Eagles.

Stayton remained on top of the league, going undefeated this year in a conference where five of the six teams qualified for the 16-team state playoff bracket. After losing just three league games in four years in the Tri-Valley, North Marion struggled to adjust to the stronger competition in the Oregon West. The Huskies tallied three losses in their first six league contests, losing twice to Stayton with a defeat at Cascade sandwiched between.

"We lost to Cascade 1-0, we were too confident in that game, and they got the better of us," Perez said. "A lot of teams got the better of us."

North Marion finished 4-3-3 and third place in the standings, forcing the Huskies to beat Klamath Union (4-9-1) 6-0 in a home play-in game to qualify for the state bracket.

They followed with a 3-0 win at league champion Marist (8-6-1, 7-0-1 Sky-Em) on Nov. 1 to set the stage for Saturday's win at Stayton. Now the Huskies have just two days to come down from knocking off the top team in the 4A classification and prepare for a semifinal game on the other side of the state at No. 5 Ontario (12-1, 6-0 Greater Oregon) on Tuesday.

"I tell them every time they win a game, it's OK to celebrate," Perez said. "Enjoy the night, but the next day or whenever we get back to practice, we've got to work hard and keep doing what we're doing."

This will be North Marion's fifth semifinal contest in the past nine years (2014, 2015, 2019, 2021, 2022), advancing to the finals in 2014 and 2019. If they do so again, they'll face either No. 2 Henley (15-0-1, 7-0-1 Skyline) or No. 14 Phoenix (9-6-1, 6-2 Skyline) at Liberty High School on Saturday.PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion goalkeeper Jonathan Vallejo stretches to reach a penalty kick from Stayton's Jesse Wright that put the Eagles ahead 1-0 in the 31st minute. Stayton scored again in the 47th minute to take a 2-0 lead before the Huskies' three-goal rally.


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