High school soccer bragging rights in Eastern Madera County belong to Yosemite after all four teams defeated Minarets Jan. 8.
The Yosemite boys varsity team (2-7-1) won 2-0, and the JV team won 5-2 in games played at Yosemite, while the Lady Badgers varsity (4-4-1) and JV teams (7-4-1) were at Minarets beating the Mustangs 4-0, and 5-0, respectfully. The Minarets boys varsity team is 3-0-3, and the JV team is 0-0-4.
The boys varsity game ended regulation play scoreless after two 40-minute halfs, forcing two 10-minute overtime periods.
Yosemite’s first goal came from junior Paul Esposito about half way through the second overtime period. The second score that sealed the Badger win was from senior Tyler McIntyre with about a minute and a half left in the game.
In the evenly-matched first half, the Mustangs had more shots on goal than Yosemite, 11-8, and in the second half of regulation play, the Badgers had 15 shots on goal to 8 by the Mustangs. During regulation play, both teams had shots bounce off the top of the goal cross bar.
Yosemite goal keepers Kevin Kirk and Narayan Black were able to record the team’s second shut out of the year.
“It has taken this team a little while to play together, but we are getting there,” said Coach rick Lemberg. “This is a young team with two freshman and two sophomore’s playing lots of minutes. This group had never played together before this season. We are still getting to know each other, and we have had to deal with a couple of injuries that have kept starters off the field.”
Lemberg said his team played its best soccer last week, and feels the team will be competitive the remainder of the season.
“My hope is that these young men can enjoy the success they have been working toward,” Lemberg said..
Lemberg said his team is healthy going into league play.
“I think we just have one starter who will miss the opening game ... this is an improvement,” Lemberg siad. “I am confident that this team will play with great intensity and give it all they have. We will find out quickly how well we will do in league when we play Chowchilla. That game will tell us a lot about our team.”
First, this is a tough league. There are no easy games. Last year the Division IV CIF championship game was between Washington Union and Kerman. Two teams from our league. Chowchilla and Liberty are always tough teams. Sierra has reloaded and is playing good soccer. It is a difficult schedule for us.
“Our players put their entire heart and soul into the game, and played hard until the final whistle,” said Minarets Coach Venessa Mello. “The final score does not tell the story at all. It was a fast-paced game that did not stop until the final whistle after double overtime. Both teams played extremely well and had their periods of domination. We developed a new formation earlier that week and they executed it to near perfection. I am very proud of their performance in the game.”
Mello said for the first time Mustang players are looking to establish a team founded in the principles that make for solid soccer - hard work, dedication to the team as well as the game, and smart play.
“I am proud of the teams’ accomplishments thus far this season,” Mello said. “The boys have come out and dedicated themselves to the team goals from the start of our pre-season conditioning.”
Lemberg has first hand knowledge Mello, who’s son Alek, played on Lemberg’s varsity team for three years.
“Venessa has coached travel teams and knows many of our players,” Lemberg said. “She has done a very good job at Minarets, helping them to become a competitive soccer team. Her team is playing hard, playing smart, and playing aggressive soccer.”
Badger girls 4-4-1
The varsity team is pretty strong this year,” said Badger girls coach Vanessa Jasper. “These girls are just starting to gel together and I’m excited to see what the next five weeks of league play will bring. My three mid-fielders, Rose Curley (junior), Kelsi Stieler (senior), and Riley Ashton (sophomore) are three of the hardest working athletes on the team. They have done a tremendous job learning how to control and work the center.
The team’s leading scorer is freshman Peyton Garner, who’s goal is to beat the YHS girls single season scoring record currently held by Riley Cooks at 36. Garner has 12 goals with 10 games to go in the regular season.
Jennifer Springer and Gianna Mascola are leading the JV team this season as team captains.
“Both Springer and Mascola are excellent leaders both on and off the field,” Coach Shelby Collings said. “This group of girls has tremendous talent that has started the season strong, and we will be working hard in the coming days and weeks to keep up our stride as we enter league play.”
The Badger boys opened league play Tuesday against a strong Chowchilla team (score not available at press time) and host another strong North Sequoia League team, Kerman, Jan. 15. The JV game is at 4 p.m., followed by the varsity game at 5:30.
Minarets hosts Fresno Christian Friday and travels to Caruthers Jan. 20. JV game at 3:30 p.m., and varsity at 5 p.m.
The Yosemite girls hosted Chowchilla Wednesday (score not available at press time), and Kerman comes to Oakhurst Friday. The JV game is at 4 p.m. and the varsity game is at 5:30 p.m.