Ranger defense clamps down on Miners and Pioneers
Redwood allowed six points over two games as they roll to a 5-0 start in league games
By Jermaine Johnson II @Jerm_10
VISALIA – It’s been nearly three years since Redwood has lost a game in the West Yosemite League. After defeating El Diamante and Mt. Whitney last week, it seems the Rangers will have their third straight undefeated record.
The Rangers have struggled a bit during tournaments this year, as they are 3-6 during those games. Outside of that, they are 8-2 and their overall record is 11-8. Over their last three games, the team has had some of their best performances of the season outscoring opponents 43-9. The defense has been smothering opposing offenses, especially during the matchup against El Diamante last Tuesday. They allowed just one point which came towards the end of the third quarter, as they won the game 12-1.
“Our goalie really stepped up and had some key saves for us,” Redwood assistant coach Jay Peters said after the game against the Miners. “The pressure around the perimeter was crucial. We’ve been working hard on that and it showed tonight which made it very difficult for El Diamante to move the ball around.”
For head coach Mieke Howell, she couldn’t be more satisfied with her team as they are having success while playing to the best of their ability. The Rangers know they have a target on their back as the top team that everyone wants to beat, but the players are responding well to that pressure.
“It was a challenge at the beginning of the year because we lost six very solid seniors,” Howell said. “It took a minute for us to find new leadership and have everybody step into their roles but everybody is growing and developing and working hard together.”
Last year’s seniors passed the torch along to this year’s upperclassmen who have played vast leaderships on the team this year. Senior Skylar Ford leads the team offensively, including in points with 75 for the season. Junior Jersey Hays is right behind her in those categories. Defensively, seniors Alex Salazar has led the way with 13 steals, and Jada Griffith has been a force inside the goal. Her 146 saves are 14 more than the number of goals she has allowed this season.
In addition to making it a third straight undefeated season, Redwood has another goal of making it to the semifinals of the Division I playoffs.
“If we do that, it is going to be a very successful first season in Division I for us,” Howell said.