Struggles continued for Valencia girls’ soccer (0-4-1, 0-3-1) as Canyon (3-1-1, 2-1) won its first game over the Vikings in four seasons on Thursday.
The Cowboys won a chippy battle 1-0 with the golden goal coming from junior forward Bailey Williamson.
Williamson and her team ramped up the pressure all night but the Valencia defense held strong for 68 minutes. The junior drove the ball into the Valencia penalty box with a defender all over her and just managed to sneak the ball past Viking goalkeeper Hayley Bench.
The game could’ve easily been a shootout as Canyon threatened throughout the night while Valencia had some solid shots and free kicks.
Cowboys’ senior Taylor Arrieta fired in a quick shot early in the game that just bounced off the goalpost. Teammate Sienna Salas would then nearly sneak in the opening goal with a big curving corner kick that Bench was just able to save.
The teams exchanged possessions with Canyon being able to drive the ball a little further into Viking territory. The Cowboys applied solid pressure from the first whistle but head coach Leonardo Neveleff felt his team was tense.
“For the second half, we just talked about the game and how to fix these things,” said Neveleff. “To be a little more calm with the ball, to have better vision and have fun.”
Both teams came out of the gate hot, still looking for the go-ahead goal. Valencia’s Juliette Miller had a solid chance for a score after a corner kick set her up just in front of the box. Miller’s header would sail just over the crossbar.
Valencia had a few more chances but couldn’t cash in. Canyon then swung the momentum and got back to pressuring the Vikings’ back line. After a few attacks, Williamson would break through for the score.
The Vikings never quit and played with a poised attack down 1-0.
Valencia’s best chances came off the legs of Ariana Neely. The junior defender fired in two tough shots off long free kicks that missed by just inches. Neely’s first shot went just off the crossbar before the next one just missed to the side.
“They’re a great set of girls and they’ve got big hearts,” said Valencia head coach Brian Miller. “They’ll give you everything. And you as a coach, you can’t ask for more than that. That’s the thing that your team either has, or they don’t have, heart. You can’t teach it. You can’t give it to them. They’ve either got it or they don’t. And this team has it. They love each other and they work for each other. That makes it enjoyable.”
Canyon held on until the final whistle and registered its third consecutive clean sheet. If the Cowboys hadn’t adjusted at halftime, Neveleff knows the outcome could’ve been completely different.
“They came out of the field [in the second half] and you can see that we’re communicating better and having fun with each other,” said Neveleff. “I mean, a totally different team. And we ended up suffering because the other team put a lot of pressure at the end and it could have been 1-1 or it could have been 2-0, you never know with this game.”
Coach Miller has seen some tough times along with immense improvements from his team this season.
“I think we’re improving every game,” said Miller. “It’s a brand new team with only two seniors that were held over from the varsity last year so it’s a work in progress. We’re improving as we’re playing and I think it was really unfortunate today. It’s a tough loss for the girls today because I think they deserved it more today. Maybe in our previous losses, we deserved to lose, if you can say, since the other teams were better than us. I thought we were better today.”
Valencia will look to keep improving and be tested next on the road at Camarillo on Monday. Canyon will head into the Best of the West Tournament with a Saturday matchup with Northwood.