The TVC boys soccer title chase is a dogfight to the end

La Salle Prep boys last week moved to the top of the heap in a heated race for the Tri-Valley Conference boys soccer title.

The Falcons edged Molalla 1-0, while unheralded Gladstone knocked off the until-then league-leading Madras White Buffaloes 3-1.

Heading into play this week — with three league games remaining, La Salle sported a league record of 5-1-1; Madras was in second place, at 4-1-2; and Molalla was third, at 3-1-3).

Ian Hamel earned hero honors for La Salle in the win over Molalla, heading in the game’s only goal with 10 minutes to play.

La Salle coach Derek Ray described the goal: “We had a corner kick that they cleared out. But we won it back and hit it out wide to Duran Herrera on our left. He beat a defender, went towards the corner, and then crossed the ball. It got over all the defenders and keeper to the back post, where Ian Hamel ran on and finished it with his head.”

Ray said that both teams had their chances in an extremely hard fought game. Ray singled out Kevin Luyamba and Dylan Tran for standout play.

“Kevin had a great game on defense,” Ray said. “He is very tough to beat and he recovers quickly, if beat....

“Dylan had an excellent game in-goal. He made a few critical punches on crosses into the box.”

“We had not won at Molalla in three or four years,” Ray said. “We look forward to taking some momentum from this win. Hopefully we’ll continue to win games and put ourselves in the best possible position for the playoffs.”

The win left the Falcons (7-3-1, 5-1-1) ranked third in the state in the OSAA power rankings heading into this week’s games.

The Falcons host Madras (6-2-2, 4-1-2) this Thursday; they close out the regular season next Tuesday, playing Estacada (2-9-0, 0-7-0) on the road. Madras won 1-0 in an Oct. 1 game played at Madras.

Gladstone guys

stun Madras

Last week’s Gladiator 3-1 win over Madras was only the second league win of the season for Gladstone (2-5-0).

“I don’t think it was an upset,” Gladstone coach Tyler Lewis said. “I’m not at all surprised we won. We’re in a very tough league, but we’ve been competitive in every league game, and we’ve developed into a pretty good team.

“In the sport of soccer, wins and losses are often based on bounces and breaks. Maybe this win will give us a boost and we’ll get a few more breaks and bounces to go our way as we finish the year.”

Lewis noted that the top three teams from the TVC will automatically advance to postseason play. And, although his Gladiators are unlikely to finish top three, they still have a decent chance of advancing to postseason through a wild card berth.

“Based on the current [OSAA power] rankings, North Marion, Central, Gladstone and Hidden Valley would get the wild card berths,” Lewis said last Friday. “If we win or tie two of our last three games, I think our chances are pretty good.”

The Gladiators were to battle La Salle on Monday (Oct. 21). They host Estacada (0-7-0) on Thursday, before finishing off the regular season with an Oct. 29 match at North Marion (3-2-2).

Last week’s win over Madras was no fluke. Lewis had the two teams with a near-equal number of shots and he had his Gladiators with a 6-3 advantage in shots on-frame. Gladstone never trailed in the game.

Senior Eder Zavala put the Gladiators up 1-0 sixteen minutes into the game when he launched a free kick into the side netting from 25 yards out.

Thirteen minutes into the second half, senior Victor Ibarra made it 2-0 Gladstone, taking advantage of a failed clear on a throw-in by sophomore Andrew Gross to chip the ball over the keeper and into the net from 18 yards away.

Madras answered a short time later, scoring on a corner kick.

But then Zavala put the match away with 13 minutes remaining, running on to a through ball from Gross, beating the defense and firing a shot past Madras’ keeper.

Junior keeper Harrison Jarret was in-goal for Gladstone, making two saves.

Lewis noted that Madras had one of its better players ejected from the game following Zavala’s final goal, and the White Buffaloes played the final 13 minutes a man down.

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