Canyon girls soccer call-ups shine against Golden Valley

Golden Valley's Kaia Usher (24) and Canyon's Jacquiline Morrison (10) chase the ball at GV on Tuesday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Canyon girls soccer locked in the sweep against Golden Valley for its second win of the season in a 3-1 victory Tuesday afternoon at Golden Valley High School.

“The girls came out and played,” said Canyon head coach Milan Cabrera. “It was a battle. Fortunately, our girls decided to shoot. Watching the girls grow as a team and believe in themselves was nice to see.”

Canyon’s Aubrey McKessy and Golden Valley’s Eziekella Okereke were their sisters’ keepers today. The second meeting between the two teams in the 2020 season proved to be a battle of the goalkeeping titans of the Foothill League in the first half of the match.

Both were there as a much-needed last line of defense when opposing offenses were able to break the backline. Each had a save that capped their performance for the day and showed a smidge of what they have done all season.

“It was like a battle of the goalkeepers,” Okereke said. “The way that (McKessy) plays makes me want to play better. (She’s) really good.”

More: Canyon girls hoops outhustles Golden Valley; Saugus and Valencia win big

Okereke’s came in the middle third of the first half. Canyon forward Analise Rappe fired a high shot from 23 yards out. The shot had a long arch that looked as if it would drop behind Okereke’s head. She was able to track to ball down make a confident save as she backed towards the net.

“I think I played well up until the last minute,” Okereke said. “I could’ve gotten to the ball but it’s in the past now.”

The stalemate became a fight late in the 40th minute as the Cowboys (2-7-3 overall, 2-3-2 Foothill League) struck first. Freshman midfielder Kiana Madera scored the first goal on a cross from junior midfielder Gia Briceno. Okereke drove forward to stop the attack, but Madera got the shot off in time.

“It felt really great,” Madera said. “I just scored for varsity and it’s amazing. I was nervous at first, but when I scored I was doing better.”

Madera joined the varsity team Tuesday morning after a handful of injuries forced Cabrera to call up members from her junior varsity squad.

“I was really excited,” Madera said. “I was just happy. I felt more confident to score a second goal.”

McKessy’s shining moment in goal came early in the match. Grizzly junior midfielder Mariah Garcia delivered a corner kick to the box in the 15th minute. McKessy showed great awareness and charged forward into a sea of bodies to pluck the cross out of the air before it could be volleyed into the net.

“It’s been a battle,” McKessy said. “We used to train together so it’s always good going against a keeper you train with. I know her weaknesses and she knows mine and we tell each other’s teams.”

The Cowboys scored again early in the second half. Senior forward Jacquelin Morrison dribbled across the top of the box before firing a shot into the top-right corner of the goal that junior goalkeeper Zoe Macdonald had no chance at. MacDonald subbed in for Okereke at the beginning of the half.

Okereke had an opportunity to play the field and subbed in at forward shortly after the second goal.

“I used that as a tactic to give the rest of the forwards a little bit of motivation,” said Golden Valley head coach Freddy Wheeler. “If our goalkeeper is going forward and giving it 100% to try and win every ball, then that’s the tenacity you need to be showing as well.”

The Grizzlies (4-8-3, 0-5-2) finally got on the board in the 60th minute. Junior forward Kayla De La Merced battled her way into a one-on-one situation with McKessy. McKessy played the ball with aggression and came forward but De La Merced used precision and shot low into the opposite post.

“It feels nice to be able to help out the team and get us in the game,” she said. “I was happy about it.”

She later limped off the field with apparent leg cramps in the 69th minute. Cramping kept her benched for the remainder of the match.

The Cowboys iced the match in the 77th minute. Freshman midfielder Citlali Ledesma, another junior varsity member called up for the match, delivered the knock-out punch.

Golden Valley’s Isabella Montifore (21) and Canyon’s Cassidy Cerin (7) fight for the ball at GV on Tuesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

“It was great to see the players that we brought up shine,” Cabrera said.

Foothill League action returns to the pitch on Thursday. The Cowboys head to Newhall to play a tough Hart team that has had few hiccups all year. The Grizzlies head to Saugus to take on a Centurion team that has yet to drop a league match. Both matches are at 3:15 p.m.

“We have three games remaining so we’re going to keep working hard and try to get us a league win,” Wheeler said.

West Ranch 0, Saugus 0

The Wildcats (9-7-3, 3-2-2) continued to build momentum in a 0-0 draw against the Centurions (7-3-6, 2-0-5), who battled to remain out of the loss column Tuesday afternoon.

Senior goalkeeper Hannah Everitt remained a strong asset in the goal for the Wildcats yet again. The entire West Ranch offense banded together to dominate in the second half despite the scoreless finish.

The Centurions played stout defense throughout the game to ward off the West Ranch attack. Grace Seitz continued to play lockdown defense and Presley Williams coming out tour extended to yet another game. Maddie Moreno and Avery Wilson combined for another clean sheet.

West Ranch will look to keep the momentum up and complete the sweep when they host the Vikings on Thursday. Saugus will host Golden Valley in a match that could lock up second place for the Centurions. Both matches are at 3:15 p.m.

Hart 2, Valencia 0

The Indians (17-1-3, 6-0-1) clinched the Foothill League Championship in their victory over the Vikings (4-7-5, 0-3-4) on Tuesday afternoon.

Junior Jensen Shrout and senior Stefani Woll helped Hart lock up its seventh straight league championship by leading the team with a goal apiece. Shrout was assisted by junior Sienna Frie and Woll was assisted by senior Mia Noble.

The Vikings played the role of one of the toughest defenses the Indians have had to face since entering league play. Senior Jessica Victorio and junior Quinn Reynolds stepped up to lead their squad and tried to limit a Hart offense that has had its way with opposing defenses.

Hart will host Canyon who is building momentum and hoping to keep a full head of steam headed into the last few matches of the year. The Vikings will head to West Ranch in search of their first league win. Both matches are at 3:15 p.m.

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