A second-half transformation put the Estacada girls’ soccer team in position to catch a physical, scrappy Molalla squad, but the Indians stayed just out of reach. Molalla clung to a 1-0 lead.

The Indians cracked their way onto the scoreboard 12:30 into the match when freshman Leilani Lopes guided the ball past Estacada goalkeeper Jesalyn Hunt and into the net. The rest of the contest was a PARKER LEE - Leilani Lopes battles Estacada's Monica Wenlund for possession.

After Lopes gave Molalla the lead, the ball mostly remained in the middle of the field for the balance of the first half. Occasionally, either team would break through and push the ball close to the box, but that was the extent of offensive success.

Following halftime, Estacada’s offense looked like it had received an injection of adrenaline. The difference in energy was obvious. The Rangers were timid at times in the first half, but they were the clear aggressors in the second. They went after 50-50 balls with much stronger intensity and made a more concerted effort to press Molalla’s defense.

Estacada’s vigor and assertiveness gave the team chances to come up with the equalizer. About four-and-a-half minutes into the half, the Rangers got in good position offensively and swung the ball to sophomore midfielder Caroline MacMurray on the right side. MacMurray had an opening and let it rip, but the ball sliced two feet wide of the right post. Two minutes later, MacMurray fired off a shot from the middle of the field, 30 yards out. Molalla goalkeeper Alisha Larsen briefly had her vision blocked by a streaking teammate, but she recovered in time to scoop up MacMurray’s ball.

Molalla didn’t just sit back and play keep away to protect its one-goal edge. The Indians went on the attack, willing the ball away from danger and creating several opportunities to extend the lead. Over a 15-minute stretch, Molalla produced a half-dozen decent shots, all of which were off the mark or caught by Hunt.

Estacada amped its energy back up with about 10 minutes left, realizing it had no time to waste. The Rangers made a number of attempts to get the ball within striking distance, and succeeded in getting close a few times, but Molalla’s defensive backfield also grasped the gravity of the situation. The Indian defenders turned back all of Estacada’s would-be shots and escaped with the one-goal victory.

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