The inability to key in on breakaway opportunities was the main reason the Lady Vaqueros walked away with a 1-1 tie against Santa Monica on Oct. 23 at Sartoris Field.
Throughout the game, the Vaqueros had several chances to run away with the game, but found it difficult to score.
“It’s been like that the last four games. We’ve been struggling to put the ball into the net,” said Jorge Mena, head coach of the Vaqueros. “That’s how the game is. Trust me, they want to score.”
The game began at a rapid pace and both teams came out aggressively and fought for possession. The momentum shifted in favor of the Vaqueros as they had four opportunities to put them in the lead.
However, there were signs of inconsistency as the lady Vaqueros took control of possession. The main predicament was when the home team passed defenders to get an open look, and every time the Vaqueros took a shot on goal, it landed in the chest of the Santa Monica goal keeper, Kristina Hodges.
In the 43rd minute, Vaquero forward Catalina Sanchez ran up the sideline, dodged a couple of defenders and headed inside towards the goal. Hodges rushed the ball to save their team from a possible score and took a wicked shot to the chest on the strike from Sanchez.
As play resumed, a Vaquero was tackled and no call was made. This upset Jorge Acevedo, assistant coach for the Vaqueros, and he yelled at the referee. The head referee showing little patience, ran to Acevedo and ejected him from the match.
Mena also was not pleased with the referee’s performance throughout the match. “The guy is very inconsistent and you have to focus on both teams, not just one,” he said. “There were a couple of plays that should’ve been a red and yellow card on Santa Monica, but the referee let it go, but that’s how it is.,”
In the 57th minute of the match, Vaquero defender Jacqueline Cuevas, is rewarded with a free kick, after a foul by Santa Monica. Cuevas rushed the ball and sent it flying over the group of defenders, but it ricocheted at the last moment off a Santa Monica player and fell into the hands of Hodges.
Catalina Sanchez, in the 60th minute, had a chance to put her team on top. She ran up the left sideline, separated herself from a defender by a step and received a pass from forward Aralia Delapena. Sanchez saw an opening, but was denied the goal with a save by Hodges. Her determination to score was her worst enemy in this game. After the blown opportunity, she fell to her knees in disappointment.
One minute later, Sanchez was pulled from the game because of her inability to get by defenders. Sanchez staggered back to the bench with frustration written all over her face. Mena’s assistant came over to comfort Sanchez.
Mena said, “I told her, when you’re in, you’re in. You can’t dribble the second defender, you just have to go. Once you’re back in, you can’t hesitate, you just have to go. It’s a process.”
As the game moved on, Santa Monica caught a huge break. The Vaqueros let their guard down for a minute and Santa Monica was able to dribble their way closer to a score. A forward from Santa Monica found an opening between two defenders and exploited the weak spot and it paid off as she launched a 20-foot shot in the top right corner for a 1-0 lead.
The score did not discourage the Vaqueros. It only made them play harder. Just eight minutes later, Tatiana Aguirre, the vocal forward for the Vaqueros, received a lobbing pass from Delapena. Aguirre handled the pass well and noticed the goal keeper moving in for another save. Aguirre reacted fast by kicking the ball over the goal keeper’s head, and safely rolling into the net for a 1-1 tie.
The match ended with in a 1-1 tie and the Vaquero bench felt a bit relieved to put a point on the board to avoid being shut out.
“I’m grateful for the tie,” said Mena after the game. According to Mena, the last four games have been nerve wracking. “I told them, the game is not about serving, it’s about putting the ball in the net.”
The Vaquero’s record is currently at 6-6-5 and their next opponent will be College of the Canyons on Friday at Canyon.