Low numbers, high enthusiasm


MHS is coming off a tough year, but a new attitude could make a difference

Photo Credit: JEFF WILSON/THE PIONEER - Freshman Michell Galan, left, tries to run down Coral Reyes during a Madras girls' soccer practice last week. This year's team is short on numbers, but expects to compete well in the new Tri-Valley Conference.Low numbers usually don’t translate into good things. At least not on an athletic field.

But high enthusiasm is one way to combat numbers and first-year Madras girls soccer coach Krista Hayes has both.

So as the White Buffalos get ready for the 2014 season, they will be one tight group. With just 16 having come out so far this year, they really don't have any other choice.

“Obviously, we don’t have 30-40 girls out … but the girls that we do have are all solid players, which is great,” Hayes said. “It makes us really excited to see what we will be able to do once league gets here.”

After a 2013 season that saw the Buffs go 0-9-5 overall and 0-8-2 in Tri Valley Conference play, up is the only direction to go. It will take work, but that has already started.

“These girls, definitely do not have the fundamentals of soccer. So we have really just talked about taking baby steps,” Hayes said. “We have started off with just learning how to touch the ball, how to dribble the ball and how to move with the ball. We quickly discovered that our goal for the year is touch the ball, pass the ball and move.”

That may sound like the team has completely bailed on more ambitious goals, like competing with the best the league has to offer or even vying for a playoff spot. But that is not the case.

Those areas will come, but the team must be sound in the fundamentals first, before it can even think about taking any other steps.

“Those are three easy things and they are already making great progress,” Hayes said after the team’s fourth practice of the season. “There’s been a lot of improvement already, which is good to see.”

That is a telling comment on a couple of levels.

First, Hayes said she isn’t worried about wins or losses over the first part of the season; she is only interested in individual and team improvement. Losses out of league are meaningless she said, and harbors no fear that her girls will lose confidence or get down on themselves if there is little early success.

It’s all about building a solid foundation for the future.

The change in the league could benefit Madras more than any other team. With defending champ La Salle and North Marion gone, the league welcomes in Crook County and Corbett, neither of which brings huge soccer credentials with them.

That could mean a more balanced and more even league.

“I really think we can hold our own this year and be a competitive team,” Hayes said.

While fundamentals are in the forefront, team fitness is a close second. Getting heart rates up, building muscle and getting agilities down are important.

There will be little opportunity for substitutions during games, and when injuries pop up, and they will, there will be a premium on those that can stay on the field.

“It is what it is,” Hayes said. “We’re happy to see that some of them that didn’t come out all summer, they are holding their own with the girls that did come all summer. That’s positive to see.”

“I love the hard work that the girls have been putting in; they have kind of come in with a new attitude this year,” Hayes said. “I know that we are going to be able to do really great things."

Madras has a core pair of seniors in Melissa and Stephanie Olivera to build around, but because of the situation, younger players like Kalan Wolfe and freshman Michell Galan are going to have to step up quickly.

“It’s been great. I have a good feeling about this year,” Galan said. “I feel like we are all playing our best. There has been a lot of improvement going on. I know we have a chance to win some games.”

The strength of this team may be the fact that it is realistic about what it can achieve.

There is no talk of league titles or playoff runs. The goal, it seems, is to be competitive, play tough and be in a position late in games to have a chance to win.

“I feel like everyone has been getting better at what we’ve been doing,” forward Kalan Wolfe said. “We’ve been working really hard. The people that actually wanted to play, they began playing in the beginning of summer.”

Quick facts

Last season: 0-8-2 overall, 0-9-5 in 4A Tri-Valley Conference.

Key returners: Melissa Olivera, Stephanie Olivera, Kalan Wolfe.

New additions: Coach Krista Hayes.

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

Season outlook: Madras can only go up after last season and despite low numbers, the enthusiasm is high. Hays takes over after serving as an assistant the last two seasons and is pushing fundamentals over everything else to start. A few wins early in the season would go a long way to turning the program in the right direction.

2014 schedule*

September 3

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

September 4

Ridgeview at Madras, 4:30 p.m.

September 9

Redmond at Madras, 4:30 p.m.

September 18

The Dalles Wahtonka at Madras, 4 p.m.

September 23

Madras at Corbett, 4:15 p.m.

September 25

Molalla at Madras, 4 p.m.

September 30

Madras at Estacada, 6 p.m.

October 2

Gladstone at Madras, 4 p.m.

October 6

Madras at Crook County, 4 p.m.

October 8

Corbett at Madras, 4 p.m.

October 13

Madras at Molalla, 4 p.m.

October 16

Estacada at Madras, 4 p.m.

October 21

Madras at Gladstone, 6 p.m.

October 23

Crook County at Madras, 6 p.m.

*schedule subject to change