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Rangers rally against Madras

Tempers flare as Rangers come back against the No. 3 team in the state

One thing the Estacada boys soccer team will quickly learn is that things won't get any easier. Just two days after falling 2-1 to the No. 1-ranked team in the state, Molalla, the Rangers defeated third-ranked Madras 3-2 on Thursday at Estacada.

In a chippy, physical game, the Rangers appeared in control at the beginning. Just two minutes in to the game, Estacada's Jimmy Wheeler set up a free kick from just past midfield that found senior Westley Coleman in front of the net and he finished to put the Rangers up 1-0.

The Rangers continued to dominate in the early stages of the first half, generating quality chances but failing to capitalize.

The tide turned quickly, however, as the White Buffalos were awarded a penalty kick when their striker was taken down in the box.

Fortunately for Estacada, goalkeeper Christian Ucan was up to the challenge. As the Madras player struck the ball, Ucan guessed correctly, diving to his right, knocking the ball away and preserving the 1-0 lead.

'I was definitely nervous because I didn't know which way he was going to go,' Ucan said, 'but luckily I guessed right.'

That momentum did not last long, however, as Madras came right back down the field minutes later when a long pass found the feet of one of their forwards who dribbled around the keeper and scored.

That goal almost seemed to rattle the Rangers, as Madras continued to apply pressure throughout the closing minutes of the half.

That pressure eventually paid off for Madras, as an unlucky bounce took the ball just over the head of an Estacada defender before a Madras player sent the ball into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead.

The Rangers rallied just before the half, generating a couple free kicks from inside 30 yards, however, both were unsuccessful and they went into the half down a goal.

Full of energy, Estacada came out hot in the second half, nearly scoring off the opening kickoff before knotting the score just two minutes later.

This time is was Alexander Aakerstroem who provided the goal, as he found himself on the receiving end of a perfect ball from winger Dominique Brillant. After controlling the ball at his feet, Aakerstroem poked the ball just over the goalkeeper's head, igniting the home crowd.

Estacada was not done yet, however, as just three minutes later it was Francisco Gonzalez who was the hero, taking another long pass and drilling a left-footed shot into the upper corner past the outstretched keeper to give Estacada the 3-2 lead.

From there, it seemed as if Madras was dominating time of possession, but failed to generate any quality chances. On the other hand, Gonzalez and Aakerstroem failed to add to the lead, but they continued to dominate the defenders on fifty-fifty balls, constantly applying pressure and putting the ball on net.

Down the stretch both teams ratcheted up the intensity, as the game nearly spun out of control on a couple occasions in the final 10 minutes.

Things got started when Gonzalez appeared to have injured his knee after being fouled, but a Madras player approached him and attempted to pick him up to his feet before being interrupted by a crew of Ranger players. Referees sorted out the mess and separated the two teams, and despite the trash talk back and forth, play continued.

Just minutes later, however, Ranger defender Trevor Skoien received a red card for a tackle made on a Madras attacker that seemed to reignite the intensity on both sides.

Fortunately, the Rangers ultimately held on for the 3-2 victory despite playing down a man for the final two minutes.

'They're the No. 3 team in the state so this was huge,' head coach Johnnie Workman said, 'especially because this was their first loss of the season.

While Workman said that his team's communication would be a major key in winning this game, he was ultimately impressed with how his team rallied in the second half.

'I got on them at halftime, and I could tell that the hustle picked up and they began to trust each other,' he said, 'because we knew this would be a high-scoring game coming in since we beat them 5-3 at home last year.'

The Rangers will go on the road to play La Salle on Thursday.