Captain Audrina Menchaca (#18) battles against Arroyo Valley captain, senior Johanna Barraza (#8), to move the ball down the field. The ball staying in mid field remained an issue for both teams, preventing either from scoring during the first half of the match. (Izabel Vazquez)
Captain Audrina Menchaca (#18) battles against Arroyo Valley captain, senior Johanna Barraza (#8), to move the ball down the field. The ball staying in mid field remained an issue for both teams, preventing either from scoring during the first half of the match.

Izabel Vazquez

From the Middle, to the End

February 17, 2020

UP’s Girls Varsity soccer team saw a 2-1 defeat at their neutral playoff game against the Arroyo Valley Hawks on Thursday, February 13.  The game was the first round of the 2020 CIF Southern Section Girls Soccer Playoff tournament, meaning the team’s loss resulted in their elimination from the tournament.

The Jaguars took the field well before the 3:00 PM game time and senior Brianna Gomez (#16) explained, “While warming up before a CIF game, I feel the pressure from teammates, coaches, parents, and the school. When we go into a game, we go in nervous; we go into the game not knowing anything about the other team. We can look at the stats… but the thing is, we don’t know what to expect from them. We can’t really know how they play until we are both on that field and that whistle blows.”

Izabel Vazquez
Freshman Ashlyn Avila (#2) maintains focus on the ball as Hawk captain, senior Johanna Barraza. A. Avila explained, “CIF is more intense because once you lose, you’re out. I was a bit more nervous playing today compared to playing league games.”

As soon as the whistle was blown, the Jaguars faced instant pressure from the Hawks. The UP ladies are used to playing more offensively and making breaks for the goal, but the ball was kept in mid field. Freshman Ashlyn Avila (#2) provided her analysis of the problem and said, “I think our defense wasn’t pushing up enough and our forwards weren’t helping them. I think we got nervous and weren’t playing how we usually do.” “I feel like there wasn’t enough coverage in the middle. If we started with 4, it maybe would have been easier to get through, since we’d have had more options,” commented Captain Audrina Menchaca (#18) on the struggle to get past mid field.

The half continued and Captain sophomore Tayler Avila (#15), who was playing as keeper, was staying busy with the shots coming from the Arroyo Valley team. 

After the struggle to maintain possession between the teams and senior Alexa Morga (#14) being subbed out due to cleat problems, the half was coming to a close for the ladies until junior Mikayla Flora (#12) made a break for the goal.

Her shot, unfortunately for the Jaguars, didn’t find the back of the net, and the half ended scoreless. 

Izabel Vazquez
Junior Mikayla Flora (#12) works to maintain possession from Arroyo Valley’s freshman Daisy Ramirez (#3). Despite not being able to score a goal during the CIF game, Flora contributed 18 goals to the team over the course of the season.

The second half continued even more competitive than the first. The Jaguars were fouled multiple times during the half and the Hawks attacked the goal fiercely. With 28 minutes left in the half, the Hawks moved past the UP defense and scored. Almost immediately, the Arroyo Valley ladies approached UP’s T. Avila in the goal again, but were stopped.

The pressure escalated as time on the clock faded away, and again, with 15 minutes left in the game, the Hawks scored on the UP team. 

13 nerve wrecking minutes passed and in the last two minutes of the game, UP’s senior Angela Casillas (#11) put the Jaguars on the board with a goal. 

The time after the goal from Casillas wasn’t enough for the Jaguars to catch up, and the game was called with the end score of 2-1, with the Hawks advancing to the next round. 

Izabel Vazquez
Captain sophomore Tayler Avila (#15) played goalie for the entirety of the round one CIF match. T. Avila felt guilty about not blocking the goals, but the team clearly didn’t share T. Avila’s same thoughts, as they moved to console and reassure her when the ladies returned to the bench after the game.

Tears fell from many eyes as the ladies walked back to the bench after shaking hands. T. Avila was among the most distraught and she expressed, “As a goalie, you’re either the hero or the zero of the game and not being able to save those goals made me feel like the zero. I didn’t want them [seniors on the team] to remember their season as the season they lost in the first round.” At the end of the game, her teammates helped T. Avila dry her tears and reassure that the loss was not on her. 

The game did indeed mark the last official game that the senior varsity Jaguars would play, but many had words of advice for the underclassmen and fond memories. Gomez dedicated to the underclassmen, “You will always have your team. They will always be there to hype you up. They will always have your back, they’re your family.” Captain Menchaca reminisced, “I think what I’m going to miss most is just playing beside people that have been with me for so long and just knowing we could stick together through hard times.”

The tough opposition ended the Jaguars’ 2019-2020 season, but the ladies’ many practices and hard work is shown with their 14-6-4 record and first place league standing.

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