By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The unbeaten Maria Carrillo girls soccer team scored all three of its goals on second-chance shots inside Montgomery’s penalty box on Wednesday evening, en route to a 3-1 win. The Pumas’ extra opportunities deep in Vikings’ territory resulted in a two-game sweep of Montgomery in league play.
The visiting Pumas (11-0, 8-0) remain undefeated and alone in first place in the NBL. The Vikings (11-4-1, 5-2-1) drop to third place.
While the game was not a one-sided affair as is the case with many of the Pumas’ victories, Maria Carrillo did control the action for much of the 90 minutes.
“Montgomery had their moments but I think we had more control of the game,” Maria Carrillo coach Debra LaPrath said. “You are going to have to earn your win when you play Montgomery, and we did.”
Maria Carrillo struck the first blow in the game’s fourth minute when a Viking fullback tried to clear a ball in heavy traffic a few yards from the Montgomery goal.
The attempted clearance careened off the Pumas’ Miranda Gonzalez and past Montgomery goalie Shyniah Austin for a 1-0 Pumas lead.
“We didn’t clear the ball,” Montgomery coach Pat McDonald said. “They (Pumas) were more aggressive than us in the penalty box.”
The Vikings scored the equalizer in the 14th minute on a beautifully executed set piece. Montgomery’s Katie Woodrum sent in a ball from 37 yards out and teammate Natalie Barragan-Martinez, who was closely marked, booted the ball in from two yards out, past diving Pumas goalie Jenna Tiewater.
“It was a great ball they (Montgomery) put in there and their player put it in,” LaPrath said. “That was a stupid foul by us (to set up the free kick) and you can’t do that when you play top teams who will make you pay.”
Tied 1-1, Maria Carrillo scored again in the 28th minute as a Pumas’ shot fortuitously bounded off the crossbar to Sarah Sullivan, who headed it into the net.
“Second chances are part of being in the (opponent’s) penalty box and organizing in the box,” LaPrath said. “The key is always the game’s third goal, it’s a momentum shifter.”
Indeed, momentum did swing towardthe Pumas, and in the second half Maria Carrillo was more aggressive and forced the action consistently. Conversely, the Vikings seemed to lose steam on their offensive push.
“Montgomery’s attack kind of fell apart in the second half,” LaPrath said.
“Our goalie (Claire Howard) didn’t have to make many saves in the second half.”
Maria Carrillo iced the game with its third goal in the 69th minute.
The Pumas’ Brooke Dunbar won a loose ball in the Vikings’ penalty box in a crowd of players. Dunbar hit a 4-yarder that deflected off a defender and went in for a goal.
“Maria Carrillo is deeper than us,” McDonald said. “They keep coming at you.”
Maria Carrillo held a shots-on-goal advantage of 10-5.
“Our defense played well and held Maria Carrillo for the most part,” McDonald said. “Our goalie (Austin) was put in some tough situations on their corner kicks with balls bouncing around.”
LaPrath said while she was happy with the outcome of the game, she was not pleased with her team’s execution.
“We weren’t very organized on our attacking runs,” LaPrath said.
“Also, I would expect a little bit more communication between our players.
“Our goal is to get better every game and not worry about anything else.”
The game was the first of two contests that were part of a Breast Cancer Awareness event at Montgomery, with proceeds going to the charity Casting for Recovery.
In the nightcap, the Pumas’ boys team, unbeaten in league play, defeated Montgomery 3-0 to complete a season sweep in league play.