Pioneers knocked out of playoffs

Mac-Hi soccer player Sergio Alvarez lies in disbelief on the turf at Shockman Field in Milton-Freewater following the Pioneers' 6-3 shootout loss to visiting Philomath in their Oregon Class 4A state playoff match on Tuesday.  After scoring with 48 seconds left to play in regulation time, Alvarez ran the gamut of emotion Tuesday afternoon with the thrill of the last minute tie (see other photo) and then the agony of the shootout loss.  After two scoreless overtime periods, the Pioneers fell to their first defeat of the season, losing the shootout and match by a final score of 3-2.

Mac-Hi soccer player Sergio Alvarez lies in disbelief on the turf at Shockman Field in Milton-Freewater following the Pioneers' 6-3 shootout loss to visiting Philomath in their Oregon Class 4A state playoff match on Tuesday. After scoring with 48 seconds left to play in regulation time, Alvarez ran the gamut of emotion Tuesday afternoon with the thrill of the last minute tie (see other photo) and then the agony of the shootout loss. After two scoreless overtime periods, the Pioneers fell to their first defeat of the season, losing the shootout and match by a final score of 3-2. Photo by Jeff Horner.

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Pumping his fist and charging toward his teammates after scoring with 48 seconds left to play in regulation time, Mac-Hi's Sergio Alvarez celebrates the last-minute goal that set the score at 2-2 and sent the Oregon Class 4A state semifinal soccer match with Philomath into overtime. After two scoreless overtime periods, the Pioneers fell to their first defeat of the season, losing the shootout and match by a final score of 3-2.

MILTON-FREEWATER — The top-ranked and undefeated Mac-Hi Pioneers fell, 3-2, to the Philomath Warriors on penalty kicks Tuesday afternoon in the semifinals of the boys soccer playoffs at Shockman Field.

The Pioneers played to a tie with the Warriors through regulation, 2-2, and neither team scored in the two 10-minute overtime periods.

Philomath earned the winning point on penalty kicks, outshooting the Pioneers 4-1.

The Warriors improved their record to 12-2-3 on the season, moving onto the state championship game to be played Saturday at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, Ore.

Mac-Hi finished its season 15-1 and will have to regroup for next season.

“I give my guys credit for having the guts to step forward and take the penalty kicks,” Mac-Hi coach Jose Garcia said. “Why blame ourselves, though? You step forward but miss — well, what then? What are you going to do?

“I didn’t want to go the route of the penalty kicks because that is how they got us last year in the playoffs,” he said. “That is the reason we switched from two strikers to three late in the game. It seems like it worked.”

Mac-Hi was able to use the three-striker system to get the equalizer at 2-2 with just 48 seconds remaining in regulation.

Juan Pablo Martinez made a pass ahead to Sergio Alvarez, who placed it in the right-hand corner of the net past diving Warrior goalie Ben Michaud.

The Pioneers fed off the momentum swing and increased crowd noise in the two playoff periods, but couldn’t score the winning goal.

Mac-Hi outshot Philomath 8-2 in the two overtime periods and placed three on-goal.

It wasn’t enough, however, as time expired and the penalty kicks ensued.

Chandler Stucki stepped up first for the Warriors on the penalty kicks. Stucki had already scored the second Philomath goal, in the 62nd minute, to give Philomath the 2-1 lead.

Stucki delivered again. He booted a ball hard and in the opposite direction of the diving Mac-Hi goalie, Saul Ortiz, into the back of the net.

Up stepped Neftali Cazarez for Mac-Hi. He booted a shot to the right of Michaud and the keeper was able to fall to his knees to block the kick with his body.

The next challenger for the Warriors was William Karlsson. He was successful, too, into the right corner of the net and Mac-Hi’s Martinez followed with a good kick to pull Mac-Hi to within 2-1 on the kicks.

Truman Manning and Stephen Coskey cashed in their penalty shots while the Pioneers’ keeper Ortiz missed his penalty shot on Michaud wide left as Philomath took the victory.

Earlier in regular time, the Pioneers scored the first goal in the 23rd minute as Alex Saldana dribbled up the left side and booted one past Michaud into the net.

Philomath tied the game at 1-all in the 27th minute on a corner kick headed in by Cameron Howard.

“The first half, we didn’t really play that good,” Garcia said. “We weren’t pressuring the ball and were making so many mistakes.”

The Pioneers were outshot 5-3 in the first half, while Philomath placed four shots on-goal.

“We put too much pressure on ourselves early,” Garcia continued. “At halftime, I said we can’t play like that against these guys (Philomath) or else they’re going to kill us.

“It seems like in that second half the team came out and woke up. We were down one goal and with less than a minute, we came back to score. I give the team a lot of credit for playing so hard.”

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