In extra time in a game against Simi Valley, West Ranch girls soccer had a prime opportunity to score. With the Pioneers’ goalkeeper out of position, Lizeth Gutierrez came storming in on a breakaway.
She took a hard shot to send the ball past the keeper and just inches away from the right post.
It was one of a handful of unfortunate mishaps that lead to Simi Valley’s 3-0 win over the Wildcats on Tuesday at West Ranch.
“I missed it by like a little,” Gutierrez said of her final shot. “Our whole team played very well, we are not going to take this as a huge loss because we still have the whole season and we’re just going to practice the things we need to practice.
“The goal was just… I missed it, it was this close,” Gutierrez added as she held her thumb and forefinger an inch apart.
The Pioneers were aggressive early and scored a goal just seven minutes into play. Some of the Cats’ excitement for their first game seemed to diminish and they struggled to recover.
Within the last 10 minutes of the half, however, West Ranch was able to create some scoring chances. A free kick was blocked by a defender and a throw-in was saved by the keeper, but the Cats didn’t give up.
With six minutes left until halftime, Gutierrez corralled a ball on a rebound, but the Pioneers’ keeper was able to make a second save on her shot off the rebound. Kennedy Desser had back-to-back quality chances as the clock neared extra time. The keeper made a high save on a free kick, then a throw-in grazed the top of the net.
“I think they played a little bit tight and to come in the first game of the season and to be super excited and give up a goal in the first seven minutes off a ball that no one really quite knows what happened can be really deflating,” said head coach Eric White. “So it took them another 15, 20 minutes to kind of get their feet.”
Simi Valley’s Faith Muench scored seven minutes into the second half to increase the lead to 2-0, then Madison Miessner added one more on a penalty kick.
With a plethora of returners, the Wildcats remain confident heading into Thursday’s game at Crescenta Valley.
“All of our team really connects well with each other on and off the field,” Gutierrez said. “We have a new backline and I think we just really need to… practice the things we need to do at practice instead of the games.”