After a somewhat rocky start to the season, Yosemite High School’s girls soccer team (12-2-1, 5-0-1 North Sequoia League) has shown its dominance in preparation for a vaunted rematch with Liberty-Madera Ranchos (11-8-1, 5-0-1 NSL) on Friday, in a game that could determine the league champion.
From last week into Monday, the Badgers racked up four straight shutout victories, besting Chowchilla 3-0 Jan. 25, Kerman 5-0 Jan. 27, Washington Union 2-0 Jan. 28 in a makeup game due to winter weather, and Chowchilla again 5-0 on Monday, Jan. 30.
Against Washington Union (10-8-3, 1-2-2 NSL), while playing on a sloppy field, the game remained scoreless through the first 30 minutes as the Badgers remained solidly in control on the Panther side of the field, but couldn’t find the back of the net as goalkeeper CeCe Lopez knocked away several shots.
But with less than 11 minutes left in the first half, Badger forward Kara Eckstein, with a pass from forward Daytona Tuso, booted a shot that bounced off the left goalpost. Lopez looked to secure the ball, but Panther defender and team captain Jennifer Perez accidentally hit it with her shoulder, sending it into the net.
“I was just trying to cross it across the field,” laughed Eckstein, a junior. “But hey, it worked out.”
In the second half, Yosemite’s second goal came with just under 11 minutes left. Eckstein again launched a shot towards the goal, but it bounced off of Lopez’s hands. As it landed in front of the net several players attempted to wrest control, eventually leading to Tuso, a junior, knocking it in past a diving Lopez.
Eckstein said that game was an example of the Badgers really starting to click on the field.
“We have the same mindset now,” Eckstein said. “In the beginning, we were kind of off but now we really work better as a team and we’re really playing strong.”
In Monday’s 5-0 win over Chowchilla (5-13-1, 1-4 NSL), it again took time for the Badgers to solidify their offensive attack, as they went into the second half up only 1-0.
But after a pep talk from Head Coach Vanessa Jasper, the Badgers roared into action, booting in four goals while hardly allowing any shots on their stalwart keeper Charlotte Borough.
Scorers in the game included Tuso, Eckstein, and Karee Smith with one goal each, and team captain and senior Riley Ashton with two.
Ashton was a flurry on the field, and said she was proud for the team playing so well, especially as they would play Sierra (4-11-2, 1-3-1 NSL) on Wednesday (scores unavailable at press time), and Liberty, the league’s reigning champion for eight straight years, on Friday.
“Everyone came out and gave 100% and worked well together as a team,” Ashton said. “We’re definitely getting the hang of working together so our passes are better, and we’re communicating a lot better out there too. I think we’re going to have to come out and give 110% to beat Liberty, and we can definitely do that.”
Jasper echoed those sentiments, saying her team would be ready for both games this week.
“They’re definitely working the ball on and off really well and finishing,” Jasper said. “They play really well, they know where to pass the ball with each other, they’re really doing great.”
On Jan. 18, the Badgers tied Liberty 2-2 in double overtime. That ended the 82-game league win streak for the Hawks, thanks to a late-game rally by the Badgers after going into halftime down 2-0.
Boys team looks for wins
Yosemite’s boys team (2-16, 0-6 NSL) lost three games last week, and faced Sierra High (11-5, 4-2 NSL) on Tuesday, with scores unavailable at press time. They will face Liberty-Madera Ranchos (8-10-4, 2-4 NSL) at home Thursday.