Diego Marquez | The Signal
LA PUENTE — Facing off against the Del Rey League champions, Valencia girls soccer visited Bishop Amat in the first round of a CIF-Southern Section Division 2 playoff game on Wednesday.
Out of the gates, the Lancers began the game as the aggressors and scored two late first-half goals and two early second-half goals to defeat Valencia 4-1.
“We talked about it before the game — it’s going to be a really physical game,” said Valencia head coach Kevin Goralsky. “We came out a little slow probably in the first 10 minutes, we just got unlucky. Under seven minutes to go until halftime and we give them two goals.
“They came out in the second half and it was 2-1 really, but it’s unfortunate and I thought that we played hard and we never gave up. Even when we were down 4-0 at one point in time we never gave up and they kept fighting it and the game actually became more physical.”
Valencia’s Brandi Reid tried to spark the Vikings’ offense in the first half on the right flank by taking on Lancers defenders and trying to find Taryn Cunningham and Stephanie Alba making runs up top on through passes.
Almost every time that Bishop Amat (16-3-4 overall) looked like it was in trouble, their defenders would step up and kill the Vikings attacks.
Valencia’s defense and goalkeeper Camryn Arnott and was busy as the Lancers attack ramped up towards the end of the first half.
Arnott finished the game with double-digit saves.
In the 12th minute, Cunningham took a shot from about 25 yards out that looked like it was going to drop into the top corner of the goal but sailed high and wide of the net.
Valencia (9-9-4) kept the pressure up as Brandi Reid and Stephanie Alba used their chemistry and creativity on the right side of the pitch and built the Vikings’ attack trying to find a rushing Jessica Raffi down the middle of the field. The pass was intercepted and the attack thwarted.
Scoring the game’s first goal with in the 37th minute, a Bishop Amat player took a shot, or what looked like a line drive shot from about 10 yards out. The shot rolled into the middle of the penalty box where another Lancer stood to guide the ball into the goal.
The Lancers scored again as the halftime whistle sounded on a header and finished the first half with a 2-0 lead.
“Last year in the first round of the playoffs we played a No. 1 seed as well and we were down 2-0 at halftime, similar to today and we talked about that before and you never give up,” Goralsky said. “No matter what the score is, you never give up and it shows the resiliency that this team has and that’s why I’m proud of them. I can’t be upset, they gave it their all and we just got beat.”
Eleven minutes into the second half, the Lancers scored their third goal of the game on a blistering shot that left Arnott standing in her tracks and another goal eight minutes later off a corner kick header to take a commanding 4-0 lead with 20 minutes left in the game.
The Vikings pushed forward more aggressively and finally broke through in the 66th minute of the game.
After a foul, Isabelle Goralsky lined up for a free kick from about 30 yards out. Crossing a ball into the penalty area, Valencia’s Quinnlan Reynolds leaped and headed the ball past the diving Bishop Amat goalkeeper to deny the Lancers the shutout win.
Bishop Amat moves on to the second round of the CIF-SS Division 2 playoffs where they will play Mira Costa.
“I think everybody can take away something from this game,” Goralsky said. “In the playoffs, you have to start strong. You can’t have that 10 or 15 minutes where you are letting the other team take it to you and then respond to them. I think you really need to set the tone and I think that Bishop Amat did that tonight and I think the girls will learn from this and apply it to next year.”