Girls Soccer Secures Historic First Win

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A somewhat heavy fog blanketed the field at Weston Ranch High School last night. The fans stood shoulder to shoulder, bundled up to battle the cold evening and waited for the opening kickoff. Little did they know, there were going to witness a bit of history.

The Weston Ranch High School girls soccer program hadn’t won a game in two years. After dropping their first game to Bret Harte High School on November 19, the Cougars took the field last night with an unfamiliar Lathrop High School opponent, and, in addition to the fog, the night was the perfect mix of drama and mystery. But, once the ball dropped at midfield, the team, the fans, and this reporter knew it would not be an ordinary evening.

The Cougars (1-1) defeated the Spartans (0-1) 3-2 and put two years of frustrating losses behind them. The sheer and utter joy on the faces of the team and head coach Gabe Padilla was worth braving the elements and waiting until the end.

Jumping out to a first-half lead of 2-0, it looked like the Cougars might cruise to an eventual and uneventful victory. Lathrop managed to push the action a little bit in the first half, but the stingy and unrelenting defensive pressure from the Cougars frustrated the Spartans and left them few opportunities to score. As a result, the Cougars went into halftime up by two goals and with lots of momentum.

“The girls applied pressure from the first whistle and deserved to get on the board first.”

However, as the second half began, the Spartans appeared to regroup and put the pressure onto the Cougars. The Spartans pushed the ball up the field and attacked the Cougar defense with unrelenting vigor. The Spartans scored their first goal early in the opening minutes of the second half and added the equalizer midway through the second half. And after that tying goal, it appeared the Cougars were devastated and perhaps on the verge of giving up the go-ahead goal and heading towards another loss.

“At halftime, when we were up 2-0, I told them that the 2-0 lead is the worst lead to have in soccer because you can get too relaxed,” Padilla added. “We came out of halftime too relaxed, and they punched us in the mouth.”

But, as the fans saw, this year’s team has determination and fight. After giving up the tying goal and settling down, the Cougars attacked Lathrop in the final minutes, eventually knocking home the game-winning goal with just minutes remaining. The only thing left to do for the Cougars was to play keep away. They did just that and walked off the field victorious.

Yaritza Jimenez led the Cougars with two goals, including the game-winner, and Fatima Ruiz Perez scored the other Weston Ranch goal. Jimenez and Ruiz Perez had one assist apiece. In all, the Cougars fired off 15 shots, including Jimenez’s seven shots on goal.

Defensively, the Cougars had an impressive 29 steals, and goalie Annabelle Mayorca stopped six Lathrop shots on goal while giving up two. Mayorca’s great night in goal included three big saves, two at close range in the first half, and one brilliant steal on a Lathrop corner kick while the game was tied.

“Anabelle’s two big saves woke everyone up, and we started putting pressure on them again,” Padilla said. “We deserved that win because we have been working hard.”

The Cougars travel to Riverbank today for a game with Riverbank High School. The kickoff is scheduled for 5:45 pm.

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