SANGER – Entering the week, the Sanger High girls soccer team found itself in an unusual position — out of the top spot in the County Metro Athletic Conference standings following a rescheduled road loss in Fresno to Bullard High on Jan. 26.
But the Apaches (14-3-2, 6-1) still have their destiny in their own hands with a home rematch coming up against the Knights (13-4-4, 6-0-1) on Wednesday, Feb. 7. And they took care of their immediate business on Tuesday night by building a two-goal lead and hanging on for a 2-1 victory over Edison High at Tom Flores Hall of Fame Stadium to remain a half game behind Bullard.
“I thought we played well tonight, we had multiple (scoring) chances,” said coach Jesus Camarena. “We’ve just got to do a little better job of capitalizing on them. (Edison) got a late goal, and that’s part of soccer. You’ve got to learn and we have to be better about putting (the shots) on the net.”
One of those shots on goal came midway through the first half, when senior midfielder Andrea Alvarendga pounced on a loose ball near the front of the net to score her team-leading 18th goal for Sanger. The Apaches were unable to increase the lead the remainder of the first half despite getting a solid shot on goal from sophomore midfielder Ava Martinez.
Sanger’s defense did generally a solid job limiting Edison’s offensive possessions in its zone, and the offense then increased its efficiency early in the second half. In the 41st minute, Martinez fired a shot into the far corner of the net to collect her ninth goal of the season and double the lead.
In the 74th minute, Sanger goalkeeper Corynn Bravo made a sprawling save on a shot from out front, deflecting the ball out of bounds. But on the resulting corner kick, Edison (9-8-2, 2-5) converted for its lone goal when Brylia Banuelos pounced on the loose ball and fired it in the net.
That gave the Tigers a brief time to try to get the equalizer, and as play in the midfield became more physical the Apaches were assessed a yellow card. Edison had one more opportunity on a late Sanger foul outside of the box, but the defense cleared the ball and time expired. Junior midfielder Jaclynn Wolf collected an assist in the match for Sanger while Bravo finished with three saves defensively.
Sanger has another home test with Garza High at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 1, followed by a Monday, Feb. 5 match at Madera High. Then comes the rematch with Bullard, which posted a 2-1 win in Fresno in a match originally scheduled for Jan. 23 at McLane Stadium. But an issue with the lights forced a postponement of the match, which finally was played three days later.
Camarena expects another spirited contest with the Knights, two squads that also are jockeying for prime seeding position in the Central Section Division I playoffs starting in two weeks.
“Bullard is one of the top teams in the area. We know every time we play them it’s going to be a battle,” he said “We’ll be ready by the time they come to us again. If we have the opportunity to win the league and beat them, then that’s what we’re going to do.”