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Molalla avenges last year's playoff loss to Banks

No. 1-seeded Indians score two goals in the second half to pick up a 3-1 victory

The Banks girls soccer team couldn’t quite repeat history, but it sure took a good crack at it.

The Braves drew a tough foe in their Class 4A state playoff opener last Wednesday, having to tangle with top-seeded Molalla, a team that has lost just once all season.PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: JIM BESEDA
 - Banks senior Cassie Streblow (4) and Molalla's Amanda Seward run after a loose ball during last Wednesday's Class 4A state playoff game.

A year ago, Banks pulled off the improbable, upsetting the Indians 1-0 when they were a No. 2 seed and the Braves were seeded 15th. But after the two sides entered halftime at Wood Field tied at 1-1 on Wednesday, Molalla broke through for two goals in the second half, forcing Banks to settle for a 3-1 defeat.

The Braves ended the season at 9-6-1, the best record in school history. The Indians (15-1) defeated their Tri-Valley Conference rival Gladstone 2-0 in overtime on Saturday to advance to Tuesday’s semifinal round.

While the No. 16 Braves no doubt would have loved to pull off another first-round upset, head coach Brian Reed felt the match was a satisfying season finale in which his team played in a relaxed and cohesive fashion to give the state’s top seed a scare.

“We talked about it after the game, and we were all — especially the seniors — were very satisfied with the whole night,” Reed said. “We came in relaxed. We were focused, but relaxed, and I just told them, ‘You’ve done everything you can do. Go have fun.’

“And I think they did it. I think that’s part of the reason they played pretty well and had them at least thinking, ‘Uh oh, here we go again.’ Kind of ironically, it was a great night.”

Molalla struck first in the 27th minute, when Audrey Bever scored the first of her two goals on the night with a low shot that beat Banks goalkeeper Lucy Plews.

That initial lead did not last long, though, as Kim Jordan got loose down the right wing just about a minute later and knotted the score back up with a shot to the far post past Indian keeper Alicia Schultz.

Though the Braves did have a few opportunities in the second half, they could not connect on any of them, while Molalla managed to strike on two, advancing out of the first round for the first time since 2012.

Bever tucked home the eventual game-winner about five minutes into the second half, when she beat Plews to a loose ball and scored into an open net. It took until the 64th minute for the Indians to get an insurance goal, when Sierra Cox chipped a shot over Plews.

“For what we were up against, I was very proud with the way they played and didn’t give up,” Reed said. “We just needed more kids. We were running out of kids at the end of the year.”

The night marked the final high school game for seniors Rebecca Jordan, Rachel Nikolaus, Ariel Slifka, Aubrey Kimmel and all-state center back Cassie Streblow, but the future remains bright for the Braves. This year’s roster included a strong junior class as well as a handful of talented freshmen who will have a year of varsity experience under their belts next fall. And Jordan, a sophomore who has been coming on as a dangerous attacking player, should also return.

“What I’ll remember most about this group, probably, is the cohesiveness between them,” Reed said. “Just like you would want, we had great senior leadership vocally and on the field and modeling — they modeled exactly what you want out of a group of seniors.

“And then a group of freshmen that were literally that, they were super refreshing. They came in eager, ready to go, super athletic group of kids. ... It was a nice, well-rounded group of kids.”


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