RANCHO CUCAMONGA — It wasn’t obvious who the team to beat was as Baseline League girls soccer play began earlier this month.
But Etiwanda has emerged as the team to beat in a very competitive league.
The Eagles recorded their fifth shutout during a six-game league winning streak Wednesday, downing Rancho Cucamonga 3-0 at Windy Etiwanda High School.
The win maintained sole possession of first place for Etiwanda (16-4 overall, 6-1 league), while Rancho Cucamonga (12-7-2, 4-3) dropped two games back. Los Osos (9-7-3, 5-2) remained in second place by defeating Upland Wednesday. Etiwanda plays at Los Osos next Tuesday.
It’s been a turnaround for Etiwanda since dropping the league opener to Chino Hills.
“We have a style. We were playing really well over the Christmas break. Coming into the league, I felt really good about the direction we were going,” Etiwanda Coach Jason Montgomery said. “It was literally rounding the troops back up after the Chino Hills game and being like, ‘this isn’t us. Here’s what we do, Let’s get back to being us. It’s nothing complicated. We have Athletes and we use them.”
On a Windy day, Montgomery’s preference is to play against the wind when his team has fresh legs in the first half, then with the wind in the second half. And that’s the way it worked out Wednesday.
Like Montgomery, Rancho Cucamonga Coach Jake Davies felt it was imperative to take advantage in the half when his team was playing with the wind. But it didn’t work out for the Cougars.
“I think the Mindset entirely was going with the wind in the first half, getting a jump on them, trying to get a lead then preserve it for the second half. Obviously it didn’t go that way,” Davies said.
The Eagles got the jump on Rancho Cucamonga in the 34th minute when senior Gabriella Orantes took a free kick from near midfield and found senior Brooke Morgan in the box. Morgan fired it past goalie Karissa Morgan for the 1-0 lead that Etiwanda took into halftime.
“She got into it and got it into a good spot for sure,” Montgomery said of Orantes’ free kick.
Despite playing into the wind, the Eagles held an 8-6 edge in shots in the first half.
Etiwanda added to the lead in the 54th minute when freshman Alondra Talamantes scored. Brooklyn Antonucci completed the scoring with a shot from about 25 yards out that went just under the crossbar in the 67th minute.
“She had one earlier almost the same exact spot that she hit over (the goal),” Montgomery said of Antonucci. “If that first one was on frame, that would’ve had a good chance too.”
The Cougars didn’t have many great scoring chances against Etiwanda goalie Rilee Shipman in the second half, but the best came just after the second goal when the ball ricocheted in the box before it was cleared.
“I thought we were OK tonight. We were good in a lot of things,” Davies said. “It came down to three moments. Three mistakes, that’s part of the game.”
The Eagles have outscored their opponents 18-3 during the six game winning streak (with the only goals allowed to Los Osos), and Montgomery felt his team defended better in the second half Wednesday.
“We got a little disorganized in the midfield in the first half,” Montgomery said. “They were able to play through us and get through us. We were more organized, especially in the midfield in the second half.”