West Ranch girls’ soccer (4-3-1) registered a season-best four goals in Thursday’s non-league win at home over the Immaculate Heart Pandas (3-5).
The Wildcats were led by sophomore Ava Magaña, who netted two goals.
West Ranch controlled the game from the opening whistle as the team registered its second shutout of the year. The Cats’ play at midfield broke down the Pandas’ formations throughout the contest and led to plenty of chances for the Cats.
Magaña made her presence felt immediately. The forward moved well on and off the ball during West Ranch attacks.
The sophomore sent a deep kick into the box that was tapped into the goal off an Immaculate Heart defender for an opening own goal.
It didn’t take long for Magaño to fire in another score. The Pandas nearly cleared out a Cats’ cross but the sophomore managed to take the ball around two Panda defenders and make it 2-0 at the 18-minute mark.
“I think Ava, our sophomore, looked super confident today,” said Cats co-head coach Jared White. “She kind of got to play that central forward position and I thought today she took a big step forward. [She was] confident on the ball and tough. We’re going to need her and her goal scoring moving forward through league so I thought she kind of stuck out for me.”
Throughout the game, a big part of West Ranch’s success at midfield was through the play of junior Summer Lagana. The midfielder pushed the ball into Panda territory and made great entry passes throughout the game.
Lagana would get the opening score of the second half off a pass from captain Mikayla Toliver.
“I thought in between the thirties, we were really good,” said White. “The possession was nice. It was confident, it was comfortable. The technique was nice. I think we got them shifted and side to side and up and back out.”
Immaculate Heart gave up two goals in each half but played a far better second period. The Pandas were able to attack and pass a little better but still were held scoreless for just the second time this season.
In the 53rd minute, the Pandas’ back line was able to stop an initial Wildcat cross. However, before the defenders were able to clear out, Magaña picked off the ball and fired in her second of the day.
The Cats now get another plus in the win column and are winners of three of their last four games.
It’s been an up and down start for the Wildcats but the team doesn’t look like a group of new players after 12 seniors graduated last year.
West Ranch will get to enjoy the holiday break before returning to league action on Tuesday, Jan. 3. The Wildcats will face off with Hart (3-3-3) and look for their first win over the Indians in two seasons.
“We’re gonna have to stay tough,” said White. “[Hart’s] a team where we may not see a ton of the ball. So, we’re gonna have to stay really organized. We’re gonna have to be patient defensively and not dive in on their skill players.”