Despite being the more aggressive team in the beginning of the game, the Santa Clarita Christian School girls soccer team found itself down by two goals against St. Monica Academy in the middle of the first half.
However, the early deficit didn’t phase the Cardinals, as they stuck to their attacking style and scored six unanswered goals (five in the second half) to defeat the previously unbeaten Crusaders 6-2 on Tuesday afternoon at the Glendale Sports Complex.
“It shows the strength of the girls. They have heart, they don’t stop working for each other,” said SCCS head coach Casey Phillips about his team’s comeback win. “I think because we are such a young team, it takes them some time to figure it out, so going down two goals early was more like a lesson. They learned, figured it out and worked together to find a solution.”
After allowing the two early goals, the Cardinals (2-4-1) were able to get on the scoreboard in the first half when senior centre-back Ashley Rens drove a long ball from behind the halfway line to sophomore forward Sydney Boswell, who found the back of the net.
Boswell scored again to start the second half on a breakaway, using nice touch to control the ball before blasting it past the Crusaders (4-1) goalkeeper.
She didn’t stop there, as Boswell put the Cardinals ahead for good with her third goal of the game off a cross from freshman Viviana Soler.
“She raises the level of everybody around her,” Phillips said of Boswell. “I think her talent continues to grow. Her technical ability is already high. She just adapts so quickly. It’s so much fun to watch her see the play develop.”
Soler showed great control all game streaking down the right wing, making smart passes to find her teammates in open spots.
She showed a special connection with Boswell, finding the forward in space on several runs which led to numerous scoring opportunities.
“We made the decision to move players out wide that (Boswell) could work with and you saw in the first half down the sideline with Viviana, it was like they were cutting through them like a hot knife through butter,” Phillips said.
In the second half, Phillips and assistant coach Lacey Lahman decided to move Rens forward and drop junior midfielder Alyssa Hopewell to defense, giving Rens a chance to display her offensive skills.
She took advantage of the opportunity and promptly scored, finding the back of the net on a strike from outside the 18-yard box to put the Cardinals up 4-2.
Rens scored once more from distance near the end of the match, using power to blast the ball past the St. Monica goalkeeper.
“Watching her be able to do things that the team needs, but not necessarily the things that bring you glory, has been really fun. She steps in there with a grateful heart and a grateful attitude,” Phillips said of Rens. “It’s fun to watch her go forward because she can do it all. She can shoot, she can cross.
“It’s one of those things, we put her back there because she understands the game better. I appreciate her smarts and how she figures out the game and that’s why I usually put her in those hard positions. Nobody likes to have to play defense all game long, but she does the job the team needs.”
Sophomore midfielder Siloam Brenner netted the other Cardinals goal when Soler crossed the ball into the middle of the box, leading to a strike from Boswell that was deflected, which Brenner rebounded and scored.
The Cardinals’ defense did its part to limit the Crusaders to seven shots all game and no corner kicks. They gave up just the two early goals to St. Monica’s speedy forward, who was able to get behind them and score.
St. Monica had other chances to score, but junior goalkeeper Catalina Sonnenberg made key saves, even stopping a couple of shots where St. Monica had a one-on-one drive.
“As the back line has learned to grow together they’ve gotten much better,” Phillips said. “Catalina has stepped into a position she’s never played before and has just been awesome all season. That’s an added bonus.”
SCCS will look to build a winning streak for the first time this season, taking on rival Trinity Classical Academy on Friday in a home tilt. The match is set to begin at 5 p.m.