By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.– The focus was this 80 minutes. 80 minutes seperating Stayton from their third semi-finals game in five years.
Within those first nine of that 80 against Molalla, the Eagles jumped out to a 2-nil lead with goals from Kevin Hernandez ans Jacobe Croff.
But, the next 71 minutes, the Indians pressured Stayton with physicality and taken advantage of the Eagles sending the ball and trying to get the ball to Miguel Maldonado.
Some say that the 2-0 score is the worst in sports, one goal and the other team has momentum. Shields wanted a third as insurance entering the second half and those first ten minutes are the most important.
Croff and Hernandez had opportunities to add to the lead early in the second half and so did Molalla to cut into it as tensions were mounting by the 47th minute.
By the 50th, the first ten minutes, he 2-nil lead was intact, and there still that issue.
The next goal could decide the momentum of the game, and with still 30 minutes to play; its something not to mess with.
Cole Atiyeh and the defensive back-field of Stayton had to work for the shutout and saw on numerous occasions coming close to breaking the shutout and putting even further pressure on Stayton to score again.
“They came at us pretty hard and they forced us to sit back and defend and just play our game and stay in the right mindset,” said Cole Atiyeh on defending the pressuring offense of the Indians Saturday night.
But, it did show and teach them a lesson moving to their next tough challenge Tuesday against McLoughlin though
“It showed us that we need to finish more and that we can’t waste the opportunities that we get and just keep playing defense like we have been playing,” said Atiyeh.
Stayton continued to push back offensively, but too ran into the same, exact problem Molalla was against their defense:
Smashmouth play that threw off mojo.
And though, they wanted that dagger goal as they had a few 1v1 chances that missed it’s mark, their defense has gave them confidence entering yet another semi-final game.
“It feels good, because the whole team we all work hard to get up here and hopefully get to the finals and hopefully we win it this time.” said Jose ‘Chivo’ Gomez. “Just gotta come out and play hard like every other game. It’s playoffs, you gotta win.”
However. Before the focus turns to the Pioneers, the highlight of the night.
As Gavin Barrett had a 1-on-1 shot against Jose Navarro, a nice shot that went past the junior goalie and was on it’s way to the back-of-the-net only to see Chivo doing Chivo things and ran in and did a falling kick save to send the ball out to the field with about 45 seconds left in the game.
“I don’t know, I just didn’t stop running and I just kept going,” laughed Chivo. “Because you wouldn’t know what would happen.”
In all honestly, Chivo thought he had a 50/50 shot at actually stopping it before it went in.
“It was a 50/50,” smiled Chivo. “I just kept running.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald