Girls Soccer: Exeter comes up short in fight for first place
By Paul Myers
Monarchs drop chance to pull even in league with loss against Kingsburg 3-1
EXETER – Exeter drove into Kingsburg riding high from a four game winning streak. Their last loss was in fact against the Kingsburg Vikings (20-1-1, 7-0) on their own turf, 1-0. Unfortunately, the Monarchs (10-5, 5-2) weren’t able to return the favor on Wednesday night. Instead the Vikings over powered the Monarchs to score two goals, and convert a controversial penalty kick. The 3-1 final gave the Vikings firm control of first place in the Central Sequoia League (CSL), while Exeter now sits in second place, two games behind.
“Listen, they’ve got a really good team. We matchup really, really well when we play each other, and it comes down to the team that makes the fewest mistakes,” Exeter head coach Darin Lasky said.
Taylor Hornburg dives to stop the Vikings’ penalty kick. Photo by Paul Myers.
While Exeter opened the game charging the ball down toward the goal on the Kingsburg side of the field, it was Kingsburg that struck first. They did not have the ball often in the first half, but when they did the Vikings controlled it well. By the 16th minute they were able to turn control into effectiveness when they gathered near the Exeter net. Despite Monarch goalkeeper Taylor Hornburg’s best efforts, the ball managed to slip just by her and trickle in.
Kingsburg’s next goal to go up 2-0 in stoppage time was a controversial and confusing call by the referees. Sophomore Julia Nelsen on the home sideline was carded for kicking a Kingsburg player while they were advancing the ball on the Monarchs’ side of the field. The field referee set the ball up for a free kick until the assistant referee on the sideline said Nelsen used her elbow to hit the other player. The call by the assistant ref advanced the ball from a free kick to a one-on-one penalty kick which went through.
During halftime, an irate Exeter coaching staff spoke with the field ref who admitted Nelsen did not kick the player and instead kicked the ball. With that admission, he went on to remove the yellow card, but there was no resolution over the elbow call that led to the penalty kick.
“It’s just a bad call. That’s all there is to it,” Lasky said after the game.
Regardless of the confusion and penalty waffling, Exeter was stuck heading into the second half down by two goals. Rather than focusing on their frustration, they decided to try and rally. In a huddle, while their coaches were speaking to the refs, the team listened while senior Taelor Hire made her best attempt to encourage them. “I know that every one of you out on this field has it in you to beat this team,” Hire said with confidence.
For a few minutes they gave themselves the best shot possible. When the Vikings attacked the Monarchs stood tall. Hornburg made difficult stops look routine while the rest of her team chased down balls and worked to push down field. By the 53rd minute Exeter’s Karina Mendez capitalized on some Kingsburg confusion.
Kingsburg’s goalkeeper, Brianna Vela kept her eyes on the ball when she started to shuffle to her right and protect the goal. Unfortunately for Vela, she over pursued and left Mendez open to make a play. Faced with a clear net and the ball passed to her feet she made the best of her opportunity and cut the deficit 2-1.
The Monarchs’ momentum was short lived as the Vikings were crisp with their passes and managed to keep control on the Exeter side of the field. Exeter’s next best opportunity came in the 63rd minute when they passed the ball back and forth on the far sideline and weaved in and out of the Kingsburg defense. But when the moment came to shoot they were off target. Then things were all but over when Kingsburg’s Marissa Montelongo bent around the defense and scored from close range in the 69th minute leading to the 3-1 final.
“We needed to be more accurate and control the ball. When it needed to be in the air it was on the ground, when it needed to be on the ground it was in the air,” Lasky said. “Once we got into our game they had trouble staying with us but we couldn’t sustain it.”
Exeter will be home for their remaining games this season. They defeated the Immanual Eagles by a score of 4-0 last Friday.
Last night Exeter hosted the Selma Bears, final of which happened after press time. Tomorrow night Exeter will play the Central Valley Christian Cavaliers at 6 p.m.