Heart would be the perfect word to describe how the lady Vaqueros played against the number-two team in the state, the Pierce College Brahmas, on Nov. 6 at Sartoris Field.
Even though the game ended in a 0-0 tie, the Vaqueros were pleased with the results.
“This tie is a sign of how strong we are,” said Vaquero head coach Jorge Mena. “It just hasn’t gone our way in terms of finishing this year.”
This season the Vaqueros have been inconsistent on offense. One game they’ll find their rhythm, and the next match they can’t score.
Chilly 60-degree weather at Sartoris Field was expected to be a factor, but as the whistle blew to signal the start of the game, both teams came out with full intensity and there was no sign of slowing down.
In this game, the Vaqueros needed to strategize if they intended to keep up with this fast Brahma squad.
“Coming into this game, we needed to eliminate mistakes and slow the game down,” said Mena. “We also needed to keep control of the ball, so we could maintain the team’s formation.”
In the 21st minute , coach Mena was penalized with a yellow card for yelling at the referee.
“There was a handball near our goal and they nearly scored on us,” said Mena. “I told him,’you can’t wait for the line judge, you have to make the call.’ ”
As the game forged ahead, the Brahmas seemed to be destined to score first because of the pressure they were placing on the Vaquero goalkeeper, Monica Rosales. However, the Vaqueros shifted the attack and made a push into Brahma territory.
A near score by Vaquero forward Aralia Delapena changed the momentum in the first half. She obtained a loose ball 30 yards out, slipped around a defender, banged a straight shot from the left side of the field and into the hands of the Brahma goalkeeper, Natasha Jackson.
One of the strengths the Brahmas have is a deep bench. At one point, Adolfo Perez, head coach of the Brahmas, subbed three players at a time to keep fresh legs on the field.
Mid-way through the first half Mena decided to take out Tatiana Aguirre, so he could save her for the second half. This was a big move because Aguirre has been an important player on this team throughout the season.
“We wanted to give Tatiana some time to rest so she could come back fresh in the second half.” said Mena. “When she is in there for 90 minutes, it’s hard, because these players make 20-30 yard runs.”
Time was running out for both teams to get on the scoreboard, and they had their opportunities, but did not cash in on them. In the second half, the Brahmas mid-fielder Jamie Doyen had a wide open shot at the net, but shanked it to the left. The cheers kept coming from the Vaqueros bench as the Brahmas kept missing the net.
Moving on, the 80th minute drew near, neither team had found the back of the net, but the Vaqueros had one more golden opportunity to pull out in front. Marching down field came the Vaqueros, and Aguirre had possession of the ball, but there came Doyen from behind with a vicious tackle.
Coach Mena erupted and demanded a yellow card. After a few seconds, the head referee approached Doyen and penalized her. Twenty yards out, up came Delapena for the free kick and another chance to put the Vaqueros in front.
She set herself up, ran up to the ball and delivered a hard kick. The ball sailed over the right cross-bar and the opportunity was missed.
However, both teams came out to play and the result was a tie. A hard battle was fought for 90 minutes and coach Mena was proud of his players
“You can’t ask for anything more out of this squad and it’s the team effort that works here,” said Mena. “This team is not about individuals, but about that sense of unity.”
The Vaqueros this season have experienced some ups and downs, but still hold out hopes of gaining a spot in the playoffs. “We have a good squad and it’s all about growing as a team,” said Aguirre “We deserve to go to the playoffs.”
Consequently, The Vaqueros missed the playoffs and finished the year at 9-6-7.