Madras boys soccer still leads the Tri-Valley Conference
A late North Marion goal spoiled what was otherwise a sterling defensive effort by the Madras High School boys soccer team in a 1-1 tie on Thursday in Aurora.
After Maylo Urieta cashed in a goal in the 26th minute, the White Buffalos held their ground against the hard-charging Huskies until two minutes left in the match.
At that point, a win turned into a tie when North Marion scored the equalizer and salvaged the Tri-Valley Conference match on its home turf.
"If you let your fundamentals drop off at the end of a match, good things can't really happen," Madras head coach Clark Jones said. "We made some fundamental errors, and North Marion is a good team that didn't quit."
While the sting of not picking up the win was definitely felt by the team, Jones said there is a bit of a silver lining in the loss.
"Out of four times going over to North Marion in my career here, this was the only time we've picked up points (via a win or tie)," Jones said. "You play every game to win, obviously, but this wasn't a totally wasted thing."
Urieta's goal came off a break after a North Marion turnover, and he was in the right place at the right time.
Gustavo Pacheco controlled the ball and dashed into the 18-yard penalty area, but was pulled down by a defender and no foul was given by the official. Urieta had the wherewithal to swoop in and collect the loose ball and put it in the back of the net.
A lot of the Madras attack relies on their superior team speed, which the Buffs have displayed well with their 4-1-1 overall record, and North Marion's field has a tendency to cancel that out, Jones said.
With the field about 20 yards shorter than Madras' home field - and 5-8 yards narrower - Jones said that, along with the wet field conditions, made it tough to spread out and make quick runs to open up passing lanes.
"We're used to a field that plays quite faster," Jones said. "The grass was long and wet there, and it's a field that just gets worse as the season goes in. It's a bit hard to play on."
While Jones wasn't using the field conditions as an excuse for not securing a win, he said the teams in the Tri-Valley Conference are all tough, and typically teams split the home-and-home series done in TVC play.
"This league is tough, and anyone can beat anyone," Jones said. "Typically in this league with the top teams, the home team wins, so anytime you can pick up points on the road is pretty crucial. In the grand scheme, even the bottom rung teams are still pretty good."
As of Tuesday, the Buffs were tied atop the league standings with Molalla and La Salle Prep, all with seven points and a 2-0-1 record. They played La Salle on Tuesday evening, and the result wasn't available by the Pioneer's press deadline.
With a win, the team would set itself up to make a playoff run. The Buffs haven't been to the postseason in three seasons - when the seniors on the team were freshmen.
"The boys know what's going on and what is at stake here," Jones said. "They know they have to play hard and not take anything for granted. They don't go out there and try to minimize losses; they want to win, and that's the mark of a good team."