Eagles tie Liberty Ranch at threeBy: By Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
Chayney Mata’s late game-saving goal prevented the Vista del Lago girls’ soccer team from losing its first league match in almost three years.
The Liberty Ranch Hawks (2-0-1) impressed against host and defending section champion Vista del Lago (2-0-2). Vista was down by a goal on two separate occasions in a wild second half, but Mata’s 77th minute tally ended the match tied 3-3 in the pouring rain.
May 3, 2010 was the last day Vista lost to a league opponent and allowed an opponent to score more than two goals. The Eagles were 4-0 with a 17-3 goal differential against Liberty Ranch through the last two seasons.
Mata’s goal carries with it the weight of three previous seasons with Vista reigning over the entire Sierra Valley Conference. The Eagles own three-straight league titles, but Liberty Ranch looks strong to challenge this season.
“It actually just felt really good to get my first goal of the season, because I’ve missed and the ball has hit off every part of my body. It feels amazing. This game feels like a win,” said Mata.
The Eagles adjusted the game in their favor and Mata was emblematic. Defensively, she was burdened with marking talented Hawks’ sophomore Jessica Hartwell.
Hartwell was the recipient of many cherry-picking attempts. Liberty Ranch began the match chipping and pounding the ball into the open space in Vista’s backfield. The second half became especially hectic because of this style.
“They were putting on a lot more pressure and getting shots on goal. It says a lot about our team, that we still have a lot of fight in us to at least pull out the tie,” said Macey Moen.
Moen gave the Hawks a taste of their own medicine in the 17th. Freshman Caitlin Bader’s breakaway shot created the rebound opportunity.
The Hawks answered in the 24th and sent squads to the break tied 1-1. Three goals were scored in the first nine minutes of the second half.
A familiar style paid off for Liberty Ranch in the 44th, but was erased on a penalty shot crafted in by Brittany Fox in the 47th. Janae Gonzalez earned the penalty in the 46th.
Vista went down 3-2 again in the 49th. Coach Joe Esfandiary substituted Sarah Hollinghaus for Shandy Nanomantube in the 51st. Hollinghaus made two monumental saves in the 80th. Both keepers made four saves and were forced to play especially aggressive and ahead in their box.
The Eagles play a non-conference match at Division I powerhouse Davis at 6:45 p.m. Thursday.