It was a high-scoring affair at Central Park on Thursday night, as the Santa Clarita Christian girls soccer team battled Vasquez in a Heritage League game that resulted in a 4-4 tie.
The scoring went back and forth with Vasquez pulling ahead early, then SCCS taking the lead near the end of the first half and then the Mustangs tying it at 3-3 right before halftime.
The Cardinals then took back the lead at the start of the second half, before the Mustangs tied it once again.
“I think today was one of those games where you have to rise to the challenge. The other team is going to possess the ball. They are a well-coached team and I told the girls we have to be able to battle and match those moments,” SCCS head coach Casey Phillips said. “It was a really well-matched team and I was proud of my team’s performance.”
Vasquez started attacking early and had a few opportunities to score, but Cardinals junior goalkeeper Catalina Sonnenberg made some key saves to keep the Mustangs at bay.
Sonnenberg was busy for most of the evening as Vasquez fired close to 20 shots.
“She rose to the challenge. She had 10 saves last game and she probably had 10 or so today, easily,” Phillips said of Sonnenberg. “She doesn’t realize how well she’s played. She deserves all the accolades in the world for keeping the ball out of the back of the net and being a solid rock in the back for us.”
Vasquez forward Melinna Mazon broke through in the 12th minute and put the Mustangs up 1-0.
Less than five minutes later, SCCS freshman Viviana Soler executed a cross into the box, finding sophomore Sydney Boswell. Boswell’s shot was deflected right to the feet of sophomore Siloam Brenner, who then blasted the ball into the back of the net.
Mazon scored once again for Vasquez a few minutes later, but the Cardinals didn’t waste any time answering right back.
Boswell made a run down the right side of the field and fired a shot that went just off the left crossbar, but Brenner was there to collect the rebound. She set her feet and made a crisp pass back to Boswell who finished the play with a goal for the Cardinals.
Minutes later, Boswell scored once again as senior Ashley Rens delivered a booming free kick from near the midfield line.
Boswell positioned herself and delivered a rarely-seen bicycle kick right into the back of the net.
“On our club team we get put into that position many times, so I thought I could do that. Honestly, I didn’t know it went in until people started cheering,” Boswell said. “Once I saw it I thought might as well go for it if I have the opportunity.”
“Sometimes it’s hard to get a good angle on it so you want it to be a SportsCenter top 10 where you get to rewatch it a couple times and take it in. She’s done a lot this year that’s made my jaw drop,” Phillips said with a smile. “It’s a really fun thing for a coach to have that kind of talent on your team because you don’t have to coach it, you just watch and let them do their thing. I’ve had a lot of fun watching them this year.”
Rens, who usually plays center back, was often called upon to deliver corner kicks and free kicks because she hits the ball with power.
She finished the game with two assists, one to Boswell and one to Soler in the second half.
“I hope that the kicks help because Sydney is really quick up there and she’s able to score them quickly and so is Viviana, so it works well,” Rens said.
Just before halftime, Mazon was able to break free and score her third goal of the game for Vasquez, tying the game 3-3 at intermission.
At the start at the second half, the Cardinals went on the offensive, earning themselves a corner kick in the 44th minute.
Rens struck another solid corner kick, finding Soler who was able to get her head on the ball and flick it into the goal, giving SCCS a 4-3 advantage.
However the lead wouldn’t last, as just a couple minutes later a free kick from Vasquez deflected off of defensive midfielder Alicia Castillo, giving the ball a weird spin that got past Sonnenberg.
As both teams fought to break the tie things got a little heated, and a Vasquez player threw a blatant elbow at Castillo.
Castillo went to the ground clutching her throat in obvious pain, but with only two referees working the game, they missed the play and issued only a yellow card.
“When somebody hits you hard, I think they actually respect you. They are trying to best you in that area and I thought it got chippy at the end of the game but that’s because both teams want it really badly,” Phillips said. “I really liked their response. I thought they represented Christ on the field really well tonight and I was really proud of them for that.”
“We don’t retaliate. We rely on God, he’s our ultimate person,” Boswell added. “When we’re on the field we play for him and not ourselves. We play for our team so we don’t try to retaliate.”
With the tie, SCCS moves to 5-4-3 on the season and 3-1-1 in league. The Cardinals will face another league opponent on Tuesday, The Palmdale Aerospace Academy, who are currently unbeaten in league play.
The game is scheduled for 3:15 at Pelona Vista Park in Palmdale.
Phillips said his team is going to work on maintaining possession in the next few practices as they prepare for another tough match against the Griffins.
“One of the things we want to work on is keeping possession so that the other team doesn’t have the ball and can’t go at you,” Phillips said. “We need to work on a that a bit because it’s something Aerospace is really good at and if we can kind of match them in possession I think it’ll take a little bit out of their game.”