MILTON-FREEWATER -- The Mac-Hi girls soccer team played well but dropped a 2-1 decision to the Valley Catholic Valiants in the second round of the Oregon Class 4A state soccer playoffs here Tuesday afternoon at Shockman Field.
Mac-Hi had a bye in the first round, when Valley Catholic was beating Blanchet 4-0. The Valiants may have expected to roll over the Pioneers as well, said coach Martin Martinez.
"The girls played good," Martinez said. "They really put their hearts into this game and fought hard against a tough opponent, but we lost."
The story of the game was Valley Catholic's ball-control offense pitted against Mac-Hi's quick-strike attack.
The Valiants made short passes, weaving in, out and around while slowly advancing the ball.
Meanwhile, the Pioneers played tough defense and used their midfielders to boot long balls up field to forwards sprinting towards the goal, hoping to surprise the Valiants.
All of the game's scoring came in the first half. Valley Catholic, which took seven shots (four on goal) in the first 40 minutes, jumped ahead 2-0 behind two goals by sophomore Linda Nguyen.
The Pioneers uncorked five shots in the first half, putting four on goal, including one by Andrea Roeder that cut Mac-Hi's deficit to 2-1 with a minute left in the half.
Belen Betancourt got the Pioneer assist by lofting a long pass over the defenders to Roeder, who headed the ball into the goal, just above the reach of Valley Catholic keeper Hana Wright.
Wright made seven saves on the day for the Valients, while Mac-Hi goalie Kalyn Odman recorded eight saves.
Nguyen scored her first goal in the 26th minute of the first half, knocking home the rebound after a shot bounced off Odman. Her second goal came nine minutes later when her left-to-right shot just eluded the diving Odman.
Mac-Hi took five shots, three on goal, in the second half. The last and best opportunity for the Pioneers came in the last two minutes when Betancourt took a free kick. Her shot from 30 yards out was knocked away by the diving Valley Catholic goalie.
The Pioneers saw their season end with a 7-3-3 record.
This was Mac-Hi's first-ever foray into the state girls soccer playoff and could be a sign of even better things to come.
"Only three starters will graduate," Martinez said. "We had 40 girls come out to play this year, so the program is growing and gaining experience in the playoffs. We hope to be right there again next season."