Valencia High girls soccer kept coming in waves: Eventually it was bound to breakthrough.
With four minutes left in the first half, the Vikings finally did.
Then, with the wind at its back in the second half, Valencia’s defense clamped down in a 2-1 win over Granada Hills Charter High on Wednesday at Valencia’s Dr. Paul A Priesz Stadium.
“First half (there were) too many giveaways in middle of the field,” said Valencia coach Kevin Goralsky, whose team improved to 4-3-1. “Second half we played more urgent.”
In the opening minutes, Granada Hills (4-4) pushed the ball downfield and registered the game’s first shot on goal, but the Vikings quickly fought back.
Valencia’s Autumn Moore had four of Valencia’s six shots on goal in the first half. In the 14th minute, Moore controlled the ball on the right side and lofted a ball toward the net from 15 yards out, but Highlanders’ goalkeeper Taylor Kendall plucked the ball out of midair.
Six minutes later, Kendall denied Moore’s best chance of the night when Moore shot the ball from just 5 yards out. Kendall appeared to read the play well, dove to her left and made a stunning diving save.
Despite playing most of the first half trapped in its own end, Granada Hills broke through with the game’s first goal in the 30th minute when Devyn Prince passed the ball near midfield and connected with Nicolle Bulnes.
Valencia goalkeeper Evann Smith came out of her net to play the ball, but Bulnes dribbled the ball past her for the easy goal.
The Vikings controlled the rest of the game, though. In the 36th minute, Becca Kysar hit a bending corner kick that bounced around, may have rolled off Viking Kayla Kukaua, and eventually rolled past a diving Kendall to tie the score heading into halftime.
In the 51st minute, officials awarded Valencia a free kick after a foul about 35 yards away from the goal line. Kianna Kukaua took the kick and booted a ball that bent to the left as it weaved through a maze of players from both teams.
The ball appeared to bounce off the right hand of a Highlander player, change direction and bounce into the net, but officials let the play stand.
Some Valencia fans and players also initially protested, saying they also thought the ball touched the hand of an opposing player, but they then celebrated when the ball went in the net.
Goralsky said he couldn’t tell if the ball hit off the hand of a Highlander.
The National Weather Service said wind gusts in Valencia measured around 27 mph Wednesday night. Goralsky said attacking with the wind helped Valencia in the second half. Granada Hills only registered one shot on goal in the second half as Valencia’s defense pushed the Highlanders toward the sidelines.
“Their only real good chance they scored on (was) just a defensive breakdown,” Goralsky said. “Other than that, I thought it was pretty solid.”
Valencia outshot the Highlanders 12-5. Smith had four saves on the night. Valencia has now won two games in a row.
Goralsky feels good about how his team has played before Foothill League play starts in January, but he knows the Vikings will need go get bet better in its five remaining non-league games.
“It doesn’t matter how you do preseason, league is always tougher,” Goralsky said. “That’s what’s exciting about it. “