With the temperature dropping to 46 degrees on February 8, the 4-12-4 Wilcox Chargers girls’ soccer team was ready to take to the pitch, in search of their first league victory against the third place, 10-6-2 Fremont Firebirds. In their match earlier this season, the Chargers lost to the Firebirds by a final score of 7-1, but they hoped that Friday night would be a much different result.
Things did not start off so well for Wilcox as they allowed a Fremont goal less than 10 minutes into the contest. The Firebirds were not done, however, as they continued to pour it on, scoring two more goals to make it 3-0 before the midway point of the first half. On both goals, the center backs for Wilcox were completely bested in a foot race after Fremont’s midfielders made superb through passes, leading their forwards perfectly on their runs to the net.
Wilcox did settle down, however, after the third goal was allowed. Coach Javier Rodriguez opted to substitute in freshman keeper, Alex Valdivia, which seemed to change the outlook of the rest of the team. Sophia Krauer (’13) and Natasha Fernando (’14) made some phenomenal defensive stops cutting out crosses and making strong tackles on would-be strikers near the box.
Wilcox’s forwards and mid-fielders also got in on the action as their chances finally came alive towards the end of the half. The Chargers began to find success crossing the ball into the box from the wings, but the Firebirds’ keeper was extremely active by coming out and making plays. If not for her, the Chargers would have found themselves on the scoreboard much earlier than they did.
Even with the Chargers playing in better form, though, Fremont was again able to find the back of the net after Wilcox turned it over in their own end. At the end of the half, the Chargers found themselves down 4-0.
As the second half opened, both sides played amazing defense, as Wilcox and Fremont found themselves numerous scoring chances around the cage. The Chargers offense was able to keep the pressure on, as Teresa Sanchez (’13) had a few chances early to break the shut out. But good pressure from the Fremont keeper held her at bay, forcing the shots wide.
Valdivia also continued her strong play in front of the Chargers net as she tallied seven saves throughout her stint as the keeper. She was too aggressive, however, and beaten twice after coming out to play the ball.
Finally, though, Wilcox was able to break through, as Captain Celena Vasquez (’13) was able to work her dribbling magic and footwork to get around the Fremont defenders and find a lane to shoot from. She struck a gorgeous ball to the top corner of the net, ending the shutout.
As the final whistle blew, the Chargers fell 6-1; a bitter end to their lackluster season.