Westlake High scored both of its goals against Valencia High girls soccer in the same way: The Vikings had control, then turned the ball over. The Warriors would then score on a clear shot as the goalkeeper rushed to get back into position.
Valencia’s 2-0 Monday night loss at home was a learning experience.
Practice for the Vikes (2-1) only began last Monday. So far, the team has had two practices and three games, meaning the players are learning the systems and developing cohesion mostly through playing games.
“We learn best when we’re playing together,” said Kayla Kukaua, a center back. “And everyone’s on the field working together.”
The Warriors’ speed and height gave them the upper hand. Their first goal came midway through the first half from a Westlake player who was well outside the box.
Valencia managed to get a handful of shots, although many of them went wide or were intercepted by Westlake defenders.
“What we talked about during the game is just bringing the ball down,” said Vikings coach Kevin Goralsky. “There was a lot of just kickball, just not controlling the ball and just kicking it when it was bouncing, and it was hard to control for us. And they had a lot of speed and they capitalized on it.”
The Warriors’ attack was held off until the 57th minute, when Westlake faked out Valencia goalkeeper Evan Smith for an open shot.
Defensively, the Vikings are still working on cohesion as well as winning one-on-one battles to secure the ball and protect their keepers (Smith and Isabel Salvadori) — both of whom played a half apiece.
“They were able to do a lot for us,” Kukaua said of the goalkeepers. “They helped tremendously on throw-ins and corner kicks. A lot of pressure was put on them and hopefully the defense was able to help with it, but it was hard to outnumber (Westlake’s) offense and their speed.”
At least two Vikes and one Warrior suffered mild injuries during the game, mostly due to Valencia struggling against the opposing attack. They simply weren’t able to get to the ball in time.
“We try to schedule the preseason against tough opponents and Westlake is always one of the top opponents and they had height and a lot of speed,” Goralsky said. “It’s nothing we haven’t seen before so we’ll learn from it for the next game.”