SALEM, Ore. - Mac-Hi's boys soccer season came to an abrupt end here late Tuesday afternoon as Stayton made an unlikely first-half goal stand up for a 1-0 victory in the semifinal round of the Oregon Class 4A state playoffs.
Mac-Hi's season ends at 16-1 while Stayton advances to Saturday's state championship game against Hidden Valley, which upended Madras 4-1 in Tuesday's other semifinal match.
"This is kind of a shocker," veteran Mac-Hi coach Jose Garcia said. "We weren't expecting this."
Tuesday's match at Sprague High School was played in ideal conditions, Garcia said, although the artificial turf may have been to his team's disadvantage.
"The ball rolls faster and the game is played at a faster pace," the coach said. "It's different. And we are a grass team; we've never played a game on turf."
Stayton tallied the game's lone goal about midway through the first half on what Garcia described as a "long, soft shot."
"It was a direct kick from about 30 yards," Garcia said. "It was a high shot that was kind of soft and left up in the air, and our goalie was not paying attention. It hit the crossbar, hit our goalie's hands and then deflected off of his back and into the net."
After that, Garcia said, his team basically dominated play but couldn't buy a goal.
"We had a lot of chances," Garcia said, "especially in the second half when we had 15 shots on goal and they didn't have any. But we were off, off, off ... the whole game went that way."
One shot in particular will haunt Garcia throughout the off season.
"We had a shot that I was sure was going in," he said. "Their goalie had committed to the other side, and then one of their other defenders came out of nowhere and deflected the shot.
"They were very well organized in the back, and their goalie, to be honest, was pretty amazing. He had a lot of saves."
Mac-Hi's final bid to tie the game and send it into overtime was also thwarted.
"Johnny Trevino had a cross," Garcia said, "and he took the shot and it barely went off the post."
Trevino was one of seven seniors who finished up his Mac-Hi career with Tuesday's loss. The others were Oscar Flores, Jesse Saldana, Jose Herrera, Christian Corona, Christian Miranda and Lupe Diaz.
The Pioneers won three consecutive state championships beginning in 2005, they were eliminated in the quarterfinals in 2008 and then lost in last year's state championship game. Garcia said he felt that in many ways this year's team was his best.
"We didn't rely on just one or two guys," the coach said. "We had a team that was all together. Everybody was equal, everybody played and they were all involved in the game."