West Ranch gets final preleague tuneup with win over Highland

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Before diving headfirst into Foothill League play next week, the West Ranch girls soccer team was hoping to use Thursday’s preleague finale against Highland as a confidence-builder.

With six different players scoring goals in a 6-0 win at West Ranch, it accomplished just that.

“You’re always trying to end the preleague season with a well-played, well-executed game,” said West Ranch coach Jared White. “I thought we did that. We finished well. We played direct really well, which they were giving us.”

Highland employed a high offsides trap, leaving plenty of space behind them. The Wildcats capitalized on that, scoring five first-half goals.

Amanda Baumgartner and Maddie D’Errico put West Ranch up 2-0 before the eighth minute, each logging goals.

Morgan Gale extended West Ranch’s lead to 3-0 at the 19th minute, fielding a goal kick from Emillie Cisneros from the opposite 25-yard line and beating the Highland goalkeeper with a right-to-left shot.

Jenna Catalano and Erin Keating each added goals before the conclusion of the first half, with Emma Oines assisting on Keating’s goal.

“Scoring six goals is going to boost us up a lot,” Cisneros said. “But we know we have Canyon coming up (Tuesday) and we have to keep building.

“We have to keep going forward and not back down.”

Realizing that Foothill League teams won’t run the offsides trap used by Highland (4-7), West Ranch focused on passing the ball around and getting its center-backs forward in the second half.

That resulted in just one goal, which came from Danielle Lium in the 45th minute, but White was pleased to cover all the bases.

MORE: Saugus girls soccer stays in a groove with win over Dos Pueblos

“We kind of finessed both styles of play,” White said. “We had the direct method in the first half and we’re a little more patient later.”

West Ranch (6-4) finished second in the Foothill League last season and notched its first-ever playoff win. With Saugus already beating Hart – winners of the Foothill League that last four seasons — in a penalty-kick shootout this season, White is prepared for the erratic nature of the league.

“Man, one-through-six, our league is going to be so random,” White said. “I think Hart and Saugus are the two early favorites. Our league is going to be filled with a bunch of ties like it normally is and the top four spots will come down to the last few games.”

The Wildcats open league play at 5 p.m. on Tuesday at Canyon.

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