Chances are looking good for MHS boys soccer


A slew of talented returners and a revamped defense have Buffs excited

Photo Credit: JEFF WILSON/THE PIONEER - Jose Romero, left, and Oved Felix make up part of a group of returning players that have their sights set on a deep playoff run this year.To say that this could be an interesting year for the Madras boys soccer team would be quite the understatement.

Loaded with talent, and coming off a disapponting finish to the 2013 season, the White Buffalos find themselves in a position of envy.

“There’s a pretty good leadership group coming through, and there is strength in numbers, and it is important to have numbers,” Madras coach Clark Jones said. “I like our chances.”

Those chances include a run at the Tri-Valley Conference title, but more importantly, a run at a state trophy.

This team is that good. And that deep.

It just needs a few things to fall into place.

“What they are really good at, is more of the team work aspect of it,” Jones said. “They are good at spreading the field, they know how to work the field, fill space, move the ball and then shoot. They are pretty opportunistic about what they do.”

That comes from a solid group of seniors who have been playing together for the better part of seven years. They know each other, how each other thinks and, more importantly, what each can do on the field.

Getting that across to everyone will be the key.

"Communication will be important this year," Gustavo Pacheco said. "We have to communicate better."

Oved Felix is a returning two-time captain that should play an even bigger role his senior season. Mario Urieta has all the intangibles (skill, speed, toughness) to be the standout star of the team.

But they will need help. And there is plenty there.

Hector Baez is as skilled as they come, and after being away from the team the last two years, returns to instantly boost the team. Pacheco, a junior, is also a solid player that Jones can build around.

Defenders Jose Romero and Rickey Salgado lead a very balanced squad that will be counted on early to set a tone, along with Omar Dominguez and Obed Eriza.

“Our goal is to do better than just qualify (for the playoffs),” Jones said. “This is going to be a fun group. I like our chances; our chances are as good as the other, stronger teams in the league.”

This team is loaded with solid scorers, and going off of last year’s offensive stats, should have little difficulty scoring goals. In 14 games, the Buffs scored 36 goals and could up that number easily this time around.

“Hector may score a whole bunch of goals, however, you have to have a defense behind (the offense),” Jones said. “You can’t just score a whole lot of goals and hope that your defense holds. You have to basically defend first and score second.”

Jones said he feels this team will be one that is a pretty evenly spread as far as goals are concerned, meaning goals will come from a variety of positions and players.

Felix agrees.

“I thought we did a good job of scoring last year. And we had different guys doing it,” he said. “I think we had like four or five guys with five goals each. We have guys that can score.”

The Buffs should follow that again this year. Being midfielder heavy, most of the team’s goals should come from that area of the field; there shouldn’t be a star forward taking all of the shots.

But it is in goal that has Jones worried going into the season. Madras allowed 25 goals last year, many of those coming from long-range shots.

It’s a point of emphasis right now, but Jones said he doesn’t really know who might step into the goalie position.

“Our big question mark right now is keeper,” Jones said.

The decision will be made this week, Jones said. He and team captains will discuss their options and move forward.

The Buffs must also learn how to finish a season. Madras got through the first half of league play undefeated last year, but ran headfirst into a mental roadblock that killed any and all momentum it had built.

“We are going to try not to do that this year,” Jones said.

As with all the teams this year, the new TVC sees La Salle and North Marion exit and Crook County and Corbett, at Class 3A last year, enter. And that may have a bigger impact in boys soccer than any other sport.

“You lose an incredible amount of competition with La Salle (the league champs at 8-1-1) and North Marion,” Jones said. “To me, they were schools that were soccer institutions. I am going to miss the competition.”

With the restructuring of the league this year, things have changed. For one thing, there will not be as much travel involved or as many games under the lights.

But the tightness of the league should expand a little. Instead of four teams being within goals of each other, the league may be a little more relaxed and a little more top heavy.

And Jones feels his guys can be at or near the top of all of that.

“I like our chances,” Jones said.

Quick Facts

Last season: 6-6-2 overall, 4-4-2 in 4A Tri-Valley Conference, lost to Ontario in a state play-in game.

Key returners: Oved Felix, Mario Urieta, Gustavo Pacheco,

Key games: Sept. 25 at Molalla, Oct. 2 at Gladstone and Oct. 13 at home against Molalla.

Season outlook: La Salle and North Marion, two prominent teams in the TRV, are gone, replaced by Crook County and former 3A Corbett. This seemingly opens the league up for the taking and Madras and Molalla are the two obvious choices to fill that role.

2014 schedule

Sept. 3: La Pine at Madras, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 4: Madras at Ridgeview, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 9: Madras at Redmond, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 18: Madras at The Dalles Wahtonka, 4 p.m.

Sept. 23: Corbett at Madras, 4 p.m.

Sept. 25: Madras at Molalla, 4 p.m.

Sept. 30: Estacada at Madras, 4 p.m.

Oct. 2: Madras at Gladstone, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 6: Crook County at Madras, 4 p.m.

Oct. 8: Madras at Corbett, 4:15 p.m.

Oct. 13: Molalla at Madras, 4 p.m.

Oct. 16: Madras at Estacada, 6 p.m.

Oct. 21: Gladstone at Madras, 6 p.m.

Oct. 23: Madras at Crook County, 4 p.m.

*Schedule subject to change