The Tracy High girls soccer team came away with a 2-1 win against West High on Wednesday, with the Bulldogs keeping up the offensive pressure to take a 2-1 lead at the half but the defensive effort on both sides kept it a scoreless second half.
The intensity of the match reflected the enthusiasm that players have just to be on the field this year after waiting through the winter, when the season would normally be, for this spring’s abbreviated season.
“I’m so excited for season, honestly, especially with COVID and everything that went on we weren’t sure if we would get a season,” said Tracy junior Bailey Gualco.
“Just coming into our first game with St. Mary’s and tying 1-1. It’s our biggest rivalry, and they’ve obviously been practicing while we just started. I feel it was really great for us to all come together as a team and we were able to connect, especially after all this time when a lot of us weren’t able to play soccer. I thought we’ve all done amazing so far, and we’ve all worked really well together.”
Tracy senior Trinity Sandridge agreed, and said that just getting in a season for her senior year means a lot.
“To be able to play with people I’ve played with since my freshman year, and just seeing how the team has grown, I’m so grateful for it,” she said. “I can’t wait to leave my mark before I leave and I’m so excited to see what the girls after me do. This season has been a lot for us. Not all of us have been able to practice with each other, some of us have missed some things, so for us to get together and play, and play good and play to our abilities is amazing and I’m really excited for this season.”
For the West team a loss by one goal to the Wolf Pack’s crosstown rival is a respectable outcome. West Coach Scott Behnam said that he was proud of the effort his team showed Wednesday.
“They play the true West way, with a lot of heart, with a lot of energy, with a lot of intensity,” he said. “Our girls find a way to compete, and compete at a high level.”
He added that the team always looks forward to their matches with Tracy.
“They have a bunch of D1 girls who are just phenomenal girls, and so what we try to do, is we know we’re not going to match the footwork, but we try to match the intensity and physicalness of it. At the end of the day anytime you can compete with Tracy and scare them a little bit it’s a win for us.”
West’s team leaders include senior Kiara Blanchard, who is also one of the Wolf Pack’s softball stars, playing two sports in the same season.
“Ever since I was a freshman it’s been so fun playing with these girls,” she said. “Some come up from not playing anything at all, some come from playing comp. Some from playing rec soccer. It’s so fun to see all of them grow and get together.”
“Today it all came together,” she added. “Since we practice our strategy, we did exactly what we wanted to. They came back and scored some goals but we still played hard and we kept working, getting our opportunities.”
West scored first when junior Emma Valadez drew a foul 31 minutes into the game, and then took a free kick from the left side. The ball hit the right post and went into the net. Valadez agreed that the West team has developed the team chemistry it needs to compete against top teams.
“We just love each other and accept each other and that’s how we win,” she said.
Tracy answered with a goal five minutes later when Gualco passed to freshman Ava Coverdale on the right side, and Coverdale shot the ball just to the left of West senior goalkeeper Sonia Guzman.
Tracy scored again in the closing minutes of the first half, this time when Sandridge took a corner kick and Gualco was in position right in front of the goal to make the shot.
Through the second half Tracy kept up the offensive pressure, but Guzman and the West defense turned back Tracy’s attacks. Guzman had five saves, and the West defenders also blocked a Tracy shot after the Bulldogs were able to pull Guzman out of position.
Tracy 8, Tokay 3
Tracy’s girls held a 3-0 halftime lead, and Tracy and Tokay played a back-and-forth game through the second half, with the Bulldogs taking the 8-3 win. Freshman Ava Coverdale scored four of Tracy’s goals, junior Ashleigh Garcia scored three goals and senior Jennifer Baron scored a goal. Sophomore Katie Strong provided two assists, and seniors Mysha Mamsa, Alina Garcia and Ciara Lucas, junior Isabella Navarro and Cassidy Hoff also had assists.