Indians take driver's seat in Tri-Valley Conference after Maddy Lisac's goal in 77th minute delivers crucial win

In the past few years, conference matchups between the Gladstone and Molalla girls' soccer teams have proven to be close battles.

The past six games between the two teams have been decided by two goals or less, and no game until Tuesday's had seen more than four total goals scored since Oct. 8, 2013. Neither team has swept the other in Tri-Valley play in the last five seasons, and the teams remained perfectly even with each other at four games won and two ties each, until last night's matchup that was the likely deciding factor for the conference title.

Both teams came into the game knowing it would be a defensive battle as the match remained scoreless after the first half.

"Before this game, at practice, we were all really nervous," senior Amanda Seward said after the game. "We were getting into our heads more than we should have, and I think that showed in the first half, and then as soon as it was 0-0 and [head coach] Nina [Wegner] was telling us all of the good things we were doing, we started piecing things together, and our intensity went through the roof."

Molalla was on the attack, however, as they took seven shots in the first half compared to Gladstone's 2. Seward was waiting for one of her attempts to land, and in the 46th minute, it did.

She scored on an assist from senior Hannah Rae as the two set up perfectly through a barrage of Gladstone defenders, with Rae slipping the pass through half a dozen Glads to Seward.

"As soon as we got that first goal, I think it really stepped up our game," Seward said.

But Gladstone wasn't going down without a fight as sophomore Genae Venek launched a shot from near the edge of the penalty box that hit the crossbar and found its way in for a score in the 61st minute. Molalla senior GK Alicia Schultz leaped up with the right timing for a block attempt, but couldn't reach the height of the ball.

The game remained tied for eleven minutes as the rainy conditions because to take a toll on the playing surface and the player's conditioning levels. But Seward wasn't worried about that as she struck again in the 72nd minute to put the Indians back in the lead. At that point, however, Seward said she felt a bit of complacency begin to set in, and the Glads took advantage.

With less than six minutes left in the game, Gladstone senior Jacia Pena found a gap in the Molalla defense and sent in a shot past the outstretched arms of Schultz to tie the game up at two goals each.

"Honestly, I think when we were up 2-1, our intensity dropped off a little bit," Seward said. "Then they scored again, and I think that brought us back up again."

It appeared likely that the game would head to extra time, but Molalla sophomore Maddy Lisac had different plans as she sent in a scorcher into the right side of the goal past Gladstone sophomore GK Aaliyah Asad for the go-ahead score 3-2 that would hold until time expired.

The win puts Molalla in the driver's seat of the Tri-Valley Conference with just three games to go against teams they've beaten by a combined score of 23-1 earlier this season.

"Defensively and offensively, we've definitely grown a ton, and I think it's just our intensity that we need to bring every game," Seward said.

The Indians will have a break this Thursday before traveling to Crook County on Tuesday, Oct. 17 to take on the Cowgirls. After that, they'll head home for their senior night game against Estacada on Thursday, Oct. 19 at 6 p.m., and will then finish up league play at Corbett on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 6 p.m.

Gladstone needs a miracle to happen that includes an upset loss from Molalla to have a shot at the conference title. The Glads will take on Madras at home on Oct. 17 after their break and will look to give a better effort against the White Buffaloes after tying them 0-0 earlier this season.

Conner Williams
Sports Reporter/News Contributor
503-829-2301 ext. 341
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