When crosstown rivals meet up, records and form going into the game are usually thrown out the window as any outcome is realistically possible. That is unless this current version of the Pioneer High School girls soccer team is playing.
The Patriots, led by a Carla Brambila hat trick, improved to 8-0 in the Golden Empire League, and continued their Assault on the teams unlucky enough to feature on their schedule Tuesday night when they faced off against and defeated city rivals Woodland High School 6-1 at the Woodland Community & Senior Center.
Coming into the matchup, the Patriots enjoyed a 12-0 win over Mesa Verde in their only game last week. Brambila also led the way for Pioneer with a hat trick in that game, while Maylina Ruiz, Jayda Morrow and Isabella Mousakheel added braces. In addition, Galilea Bolivar, Isabella Duarte and Dayanara De la Cruz all added a goal to the total.
Woodland came into the Showdown with a 3-3-1 league record featuring a 3-0 win over Mesa Verde and a 5-2 loss to Dixon last week.
While the scoreline Tuesday night wasn’t particularly close, the Wolves showed a massive improvement following the 10-0 loss in the teams’ previous matchup back on Dec. 8. In fact, the goal scored courtesy of Ximena Hinojosa, was the first league goal the Patriots have allowed all season. Head Coach James Pierce has had his work cut out for him this season with such a young team, but the play on the field has been vastly improved.
“We need to give credit to Woodland,” Patriots head Coach Marco Mendoza said. “Our defense did a great job, but some were nervous about their fast forward (Ximena). After the goal, we found a way to shut them down, but this was a tougher game than the first time we played. They have improved a lot, and they deserve a lot of credit.”
After a brief but uncharacteristic bout of wasting solid opportunities in the opening 10 minutes, where the Patriots squandered two or three early chances, they’d start to get more clinical thanks to midfielder Carla Brambila. Brambila, who has six goals in the past two games, scored the opener and then added a second, giving the Patriots a 2-0 lead.
Minutes later, in the 14th minute, defender Amahirani Orozco-Ruiz converted a penalty into the bottom right corner to give Pioneer a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 lead.
While any other team in the league would likely have called it a day and started to plan their exit, Woodland speedster forward Ximena Hinojosa scored the goal of the night and perhaps the season.
After receiving possession of the ball near midfield, Hinojosa bolted towards the Pioneer goal. After bobbing and weaving her way into shooting position, Hinojosa unleashed a right-footed shot into the top of the net over the keeper’s head to cut the lead to 3-1. Hinojosa was dangerous all night with her runs and possession of the ball, so she must have felt relieved to be rewarded for her fine play.
After the goal, the Patriots needed a response to keep the Wolves from gaining any more momentum and did so thanks to a goal from Camille Salazar after a nice pass from Gabriela Vega to spring her free on goal. At halftime, the score was 4-1.
In the second half, leading goal scorer Kayla Canchola scored her first of the night to make it 5-1. With a four goal lead, the Patriots now began to pull away.
Late in the game, Pioneer would get one more thanks to a terrific crossfield pass from Galilea Bolivar to Brambila, who hit it off the volley into the back of the net for the 6-1 eventual win.
Next for the Wolves will be a Thursday trip to Rio Linda, the second-to-last-place team in the league. Woodland defeated them 4-1 back in their Dec. 12 meetings. The game is scheduled to start at 6 pm
The Patriots will stay home and host Mira Loma Thursday at 6 pm, a team they beat 8-0 back on Dec. 12.
“Next week, we have two hard games against Casa Roble and Dixon,” Medoza said. “As long as we beat Dixon, we will be ok in the league. To feel confident going into the playoffs, we need to do better on corner kicks and cover our headers. As I have said, we don’t depend on just one girl, so that has been helping us.”