Pacheco High’s girls soccer team dropped its opener 2-0 to Lathrop on Tuesday, with the Spartans pressuring the Panther defense in the first half.
Lathrop’s offense took 15 shots, six of them on target. Pacheco goalkeeper Sabrina Soares prevented a few more from getting off by aggressively patrolling the entire goal box.
“She played with me last year on JV, and this is her first year on the varsity team,” Pacheco coach Trichelle Larkins said. “And yes, she’s definitely good at stepping to the ball, pressuring, and not letting them get the one-on-one situation. I’m very proud of her for that.”
Soares’ aggression caused several collisions, including one with her own defender, who wasn’t able to pull up after racing to get back.
“If I can see that I can get to the ball, I will get to it. I’m not scared to get into their feet,” Soares said. “I’ve got to trust my defense, too, but if I can get it, I’m going to go get it.”
Lathrop put most of its pressure on the Panthers in the first half, launching 11 shots. Only one of them got past Soares though, when Sierra Downum collected a goal kick in front of the Pacheco defense and sailed her shot over Soares’ head.
Pacheco held Lathrop to four shots in the second half.
“Our biggest problem was there was a gap between the defense and the offense, so they filled the gap, and the second half was much better,” Larkins said. “They made (the adjustment). They decided that’s what they were missing, and even with the girls coming off the bench, because I had hurt players, the girls coming off the bench didn’t lose a step there, so I was excited for that.”
Pacheco’s offense wasn’t able to get much going in either half – the Panthers only put four shots on target, and most of those from long distance. Probably Pacheco’s best chance to score came near the end of the first half when Itzel Quintero beat Lathrop goalkeeper Cassandra Flores to a loose ball, but a Spartan defender was there to nick the ball away.
Lathrop’s Stephanie Maduli collected a ricochet off a defender near the Pacheco goal in the second half and curved a shot into the top left corner of the goal. Lathrop had one goal in each half waved off due to offsides.
“I think the girls panicked in the beginning and were like, ‘What the heck do we do?’ Then they realized we’re going to have to step to the ball and we’re going to have to play together, we’re going to have to be a team,” Larkins said. “That’s when the change happened, when they actually had a chance to sit and talk to each other and figure out what was the problem. I think they just stepped it up. So my goal for the next game will be to step it up from moment one, instead of at halftime.”
Soares, one of two players who came up from the JV squad this year, said those adjustments can take the team far.
“We can be really good. We just need to trust each other and work together,” she said. “We’re going to get a lot of wins is what I see.”