Two second-half goals from Canyon senior Taylor Arietta lifted the Cowboys girls’ soccer team to victory on Friday in a home CIF playoff match with the Montclair Cavaliers.
Canyon won the game 2-1 after digging its way out of a 1-0 hole to stun the Cavaliers in the second half.
The Cowboys (10-7-1) didn’t break through until the 58-minute mark. The Canyon midfield followed the game plan, and sent a ball up to the forwards where Arietta or Bailey Williamson could do some damage.
Williamson drove the ball up and laid it off to Arietta to tie the score at 1-1.
“I was just trying to help my team out and get up the field because we were struggling,” Arietta said. “After we scored the first one, I didn’t want us to give up because we’ve done that before. So that first one really got us motivated and then it just kept the energy up to get the second one.”
Canyon sparked all over the field after the goal and it didn’t take long for the team to strike again.
Less than 10 minutes later, Arietta had another chance to score but was fouled in the penalty box. The senior delivered on the penalty kick that would be enough to punch the team’s ticket to the CIF quarterfinals.
“I always look on to the right side and I usually shoot to the right but this time I wanted to go left,” Arietta said. “So, I picked my spot and hit it there… It feels so good to bring my team up and get the win. We really needed it this season just to prove ourselves.”
Montclair struck first just after halftime. Sophomore Brianna Figueroa blasted the opening score into the back of the net off a corner kick to take the 1-0 lead.
It was the first goal Canyon conceded in the playoffs.
The Cowboys locked in and went on the run to win the game. The defense played solid, holding off the Cavs’ desperate push to end the game. The backline made tons of key clearouts while Canyon keeper Makayla Charles registered three of her six saves in the final 20 minutes of play.
Cowboys head coach Leonardo Neveleff saw a slow start from his team but was proud of the fight to close out the game.
“It took a little bit for them to wake up,” Neveleff said. “They’re coming in with a lot of fatigue from the game but our trainer Jake is doing a great job. You can see they’re getting a little tired, but when they push themselves, you see the difference and I’m proud of them. They pushed themselves to the limit.”
Neveleff saw impressive play from the Cavaliers but believes his team’s intensity was the difference maker in the end.
“All the games are finals for us and you have to play them like it,” Neveleff said. “And even though we didn’t have a good game tactically and technically, they showed the attitude at the end. All they needed was the attitude and intensity to change the game and you saw the results after.”
Canyon is coming alive at just the right time. After stumbling into the playoffs with a couple of tough losses, the Cowboys have won three in a row after drawing into the wildcard round earlier this week.
The Green Machine will be back on the road for the quarterfinals on Tuesday when the Cowboys travel to face the Western Christian Fighting Lancers (13-7-6).
Western is a fellow wildcard team but has lost just one game dating back to late December.
It will be another critical road test for the Cowboys, but the team has shown no signs of wanting its season to end, especially after playing in front of a sizable home crowd on Thursday.
“We are having a blast and it’s always fun and we’re happy to win, but we have to keep ourselves in check and keep working hard,” Neveleff said. “It’s fun getting this far and having the bleachers pretty much packed. You don’t see that much with girls’ soccer so I’m happy to see all that.”
Canyon heads to Upland to take on Western Christian on Tuesday at 5 p.m.