Reedley girls kick off big early lead against Exeter

Pirates girls soccer score twice in first half, hang on for 3-1 upset of reigning D-III section champion Monarchs in Tri-County cross division matchup

Exeter High’s Addison McNulty (2) and Nicole Thompson (9) scrap with Reedley High’s Daniela Ramirez (13) and a sliding Ariana Zarate (26) during the second half of the Pirates’ 3-1 victory over the Monarchs in a Tri-County Conference cross division soccer match on Jan. 16 at Reedley Soccer Complex. (Jon Earnest)
Exeter High’s Addison McNulty (2) and Nicole Thompson (9) scrap with Reedley High’s Daniela Ramirez (13) and a sliding Ariana Zarate (26) during the second half of the Pirates’ 3-1 victory over the Monarchs in a Tri-County Conference cross division soccer match on Jan. 16 at Reedley Soccer Complex. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published January 17, 2024  • 
11:00 am

REEDLEY – A quick start led to a surprising result Tuesday evening in a Tri-County Conference cross division girls soccer matchup between host Reedley High and perennial power Exeter High.

The Pirates (7-5-7 overall) scored twice in the first half to grab the lead, added another score for a three-goal cushion and then held off a charge by the Monarchs (9-5-2) for a 3-1 victory at Reedley Soccer Complex. While the result affected neither team’s standing in their respective division, it meant an emotional boost for Reedley and a temporary hiccup for a young-but-potent Exeter squad.

“It’s a great win, especially against a really organized and strong team that’s coming off a (Division III section) championship,” Pirates coach Itzcalli Pizano said after the match. “We told the girls this is going to be a big game. We watched a lot of film, and broke down all the areas we needed to fix. Monday, we worked on all those areas, and it really showed today.”

Reedley connected for a pair of first half goals from sophomore forward Kimberly Garcia and junior Jisselle Ramos, and Garcia added a second goal midway through the second half. The Monarchs countered with a score from freshman forward Ellee Rowlett, and kept heavy offensive pressure on Reedley in the late stages of the match despite being a player down because of a red card issued in the 68th minute.

“We’re a very young team, super young,” veteran coach Darin Lasky said of his squad, which includes four freshman and four sophomore players. “We play like that a lot where we go in and out of greatness. It’s lights on and lights off sometimes. We came out a little flat again, and you can’t let a team like Reedley get up on you like that.”

Reedley made the most of its scoring opportunities, getting the first goal from Garcia in the 21st minute on a short side shot. Moments after goalkeeper Isabella Arias and the defense turned away an Exeter scoring rush, a Pirates counter rush concluded with a rebound score by Ramos in the 38th minute. Ramos had a pair of nice leaping deflection saves in the opening half.

Exeter began to increase its offensive rushes into the zone, but was caught again on another counter rush in the 57th minute and Garcia countered for a three-goal advantage. The Monarchs finally came to life, forcing a couple of corner kicks before Rowlett slammed home a rebound shot in the 65th minute. A red card issued to Exeter three minutes later on another counter rush put the visitors short a player the rest of the night, but the Monarchs still kept on heavy pressure on goal.

“We dominated that second half portion that lasted 15 minutes. If we’d have played like that the entire game, we would have been fine,” Lasky said. “Next week, we go to (2-0 Central Valley Christian) Kerman. Last week was brutal, we had Kerman and Kingsburg (a 1-0 Monarchs win). We played a little flat against Kerman, and then lights out against Kingsburg.”

Pizano said that the strong performance and win was a confidence booster her team would need in upcoming matches against Sierra Pacific (Jan. 18) and at city rival Immanuel (Tuesday, Jan. 23).

“This is another big game for us. This is a big win for us and it’s going to help us going ahead,” she said. The Pirates also will host Immanuel on Thursday, Feb. 8.

Jon Earnest
Reporter