With the girls soccer season looming over Pacheco High, the Panthers warmed up with a scrimmage against neighboring Gustine on Tuesday.
Officially, the match was an unscored scrimmage. Unofficially, the Panthers outscored the Redskins 4-2, with two goals from striker Alexa Teran in the first half.
“I was actually very proud of them for playing as a team and keeping together as a team,” Pacheco’s first-year coach Trichelle Larkins said. “There was solid movement from the back to the front. That was our objective today – it wasn’t about scoring goals and winning the game, it was about staying together and playing as a team, and I was proud of them for doing that.”
Since the scrimmage had no bearing on either team’s record, Larkins was able to play around with lineups and formations and see what worked and what didn’t.
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“It let me move some girls where they wouldn’t normally play, have them try some things they wouldn’t normally do in a real game,” Larkins said. “So yeah, there was an opportunity to kind of feel out what the season will be like, because this is the first time they’ve played together.”
Teran needed just a few minutes to give Pacheco the first goal, but Gustine responded within a minute. Diana Valtierra put Pacheco back on top five minutes later after a corner kick got away from Gustine’s goalkeeper and Valtierra was there to put it away.
Again, Gustine responded quickly, with a fast-passing attack from the win to a forward just in front of the goal. Teran finished the first half with a goal off an Itzel Quintero assist. Melinda Martinez capped the scoring about halfway through the second half on a free kick from about 15 feet outside the goal box, floating the kick over the Gustine goalkeeper.
Valtierra put another shot in the back of the net, but the referees (a pair of Pacheco boys players on hand to catch the game) waved it off due to Valiterra being offside.
“We were really nervous at first, but we actually thought we could take it, because we’re a team now,” said Martinez, a midfielder and one of the more experienced players on the team. “We’re definitely communicating more. We have more trust in each other for sure.”
Melinda and a returning core of players like Teran and defender Rosio Ruiz, along with an influx of athletic players from the junior-varsity team, which Larkins coached last year, are eyeing the playoffs this year.
“I feel like we’re already a success because they played like a team,” the coach said. “That was our objective last year at JV, so I would say as long as they’re playing together, a solid showing for the teams we know we can beat, and then staying together for the teams that are going to prove hard for us ... it won’t be about goals scored or wins and losses for these girls a lot of the time, it’ll just be about how well we are together as one team.”