Amenah Munoz was screaming for the ball. When the Golden Valley senior midfielder got it, she didn’t disappoint.
Munoz scored the game-winning goal in the 74th minute as the Cougars girls soccer team defeated Merced 2-1 on Monday night at McNamara Park in a key Central California Conference match.
“I was so hyped,” Munoz said. “I knew I could get there. Everything happened so fast. I was screaming for Carlie (Garcia) to pass and I took off. I know how aggressive Merced’s defense is, as soon as I felt the defender grab my jersey, I knew she couldn’t catch me..”
Munoz received Garcia’s pass just inside the 18-yard line and quickly fired a shot into the back of the net that set off a wild celebration.
Golden Valley (8-4-3 overall, 4-2 CCC) still had to sweat out some Merced scoring opportunities in the final minutes, but the Cougars held on for a big win to move into third place in the CCC.
The top three teams in the conference advance to the playoffs. Turlock and Pitman are tied atop the conference at 4-0-2 with 14 points at the midway point of the conference season. Golden Valley is third with 12 points and Merced (7-5-2, 3-2-1 CCC) has 10 points.
“At the end of the first half we’re right where we want to be,” said Golden Valley coach Ashley Faraone. “With a three-game week this week – starting with Merced – we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
The Bears jumped out in front early as sophomore DeAnna Govea found the right corner of the net just 6 minutes into the match to give Merced a 1-0 lead.
The Cougars pulled even at 1-1 in the 16th minute when Ariana Severo sent a pass through the Merced defense to an open Bianca Ramirez for a goal.
After scoring the equalizer, the Cougars felt they had the advantage. Especially given Golden Valley’s recent history against its crosstown rivals.
Golden Valley has been a thorn in Merced’s side the past few years. The Cougars handed Merced its only conference loss last season and tied the Bears 1-1 in the regular season finale to prevent Merced from winning the CCC.
Golden Valley did the same thing in 2016 with a 1-0 win in the regular season finale that cost the Bears a conference championship.
“It was huge for us to be tied 1-1 at the half,” said Munoz, who leads the Cougars in scoring this season with 13 goals. “Merced scored the first goal right off the bat, but that was a fluke on our part. Our first goal we were committed to passing the ball up the field. We knew we could sneak another one in.”
Stone Ridge Christian 4, Big Valley Christian 0 in Merced – Maartje Vander Dussen and Melanie Jimenez each scored a pair of goals as the Knights improved to 3-3 in the Central California Athletic Alliance
Atwater 4, Buhach Colony 1 in Atwater – Four different Falcons players scored as Atwater (8-4-5 overall, 3-0-2 CCC) won its third consecutive game. Jesus Almejo, Armando Ramirez, Sebastian Magana and Aziel Gutierrez all scored for Atwater. Ramirez also recorded an assist.
Leo Diaz finished with eight saves for the Falcons.
Jonathan Rodriguez scored the Thunder’s lone goal as Buhach Colony dropped to 4-2 in the CCC.
Merced 2, Golden Valley 1 in Merced – Bryan Robles scored in the first half to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead. Merced answered with two goals to pick up the Bears’ first CCC win. Jose Calderon and Isaac Delgado both finished with three saves for Golden Valley.