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Playoff hopes dashed

MHS boys soccer squad's late rally fall short

by: Billy Gates/The Pioneer - Madras’ Derrick Pacheco (13) challenges a La Salle Prep player for the ball during Thursday night’s Tri-Valley Conference boys soccer match in Madras. Two goals in the match’s final 15 minutes weren’t enough as the Buffs fell to the Falcons, 3-2.

With their playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the Madras White Buffalos boys soccer team nearly completed a comeback for the ages in a 3-2 loss to La Salle Prep on Thursday at Madras High School.
   A win would have kept the Buffs in playoff contention, but the loss essentially eliminated them coupled with the 3-1 loss to North Marion last Tuesday.
   Trailing 3-0 with 15 minutes left in the match, the Buffs somehow found some life and put together some of the best soccer they've played all year with a pair of goals, and nearly a third to tie it up.
   In the 73rd minute, freshman Gustavo Pacheco received a throw-in from Carlos Garcia and carried the ball down to the right edge of the 18-yard penalty area.
   With hardly no shooting angle at the goal, Pacheco let one fly anyway - and somehow it went in.
   Pacheco's shot sailed over the goalkeeper's head and had just the slightest amount of draw to make it slide inside the far post and into the side netting for the Buffs' first goal of the match.
   Two minutes later, with the Buffs pressuring the Falcons' goal, a La Salle player committed an obvious foul in the penalty area, so the center official pointed to the 12-yard spot and awarded the Buffs a penalty kick with four minutes in the match remaining.
   Senior Carlos Garcia, playing in his final home match as a Buff, drove a shot low and hard past the diving La Salle goalkeeper to give his team a chance, now trailing just 3-2.
   Madras had a couple opportunities to tie the match with shots late in the half, but the best came from David Madrigal.
   He smacked a shot from about 25 yards out that got through some traffic and made the goalkeeper have to make an amazing sprawling save to keep the match from being tied at 3-3.
   "There's just no quit in this group," Madras head coach Clark Jones said. "As far as records go, this is a down year, but our guys played incredibly hard, and incredibly well for that last part of the match."
   The game was played under the lights on the football field during Homecoming Week, rather than on the soccer fields across the street from the football stadium with no lights on them.
   One of the big problems that has plagued the Buffs all year has been allowing goals early in the match, and that stung them again.
   In the sixth minute, La Salle won a free kick from about 30 yards away from the goal. The ball was served into a sea of players in the penalty area, and a Falcon put his head on it and knocked it in the net.
   The Buffs finished their season at Molalla, the defending state champions, on Tuesday. The result was not available by the Pioneer's press deadline.