Role reversal

Once-struggling Hollister surprises Gilroy in girls’ soccer
By Joseph Staloch

Hollister – Up to this point, the current season had been a role reversal for the Gilroy and San Benito High girls’ soccer teams.

The Mustangs, who won one game last year, were rolling right along with a 9-3 record. The Haybalers, who advanced to the CCS playoffs last year, were sitting at just one win.

Then came Thursday’s league opener in Hollister.

The ‘Balers, coming in with a record of just 1-7-1, scored in the 77th minute and held on for a 1-0 upset of Gilroy.

“The shots just didn’t fall, and that’s sports,” GHS head coach Jose Hernandez said. “Any game you play, if you don’t score that’s what happens. We’ll be all right though … there’s nine more games.”

It was a defensive struggle all the way, with Gilroy doing a great job of keeping the ball away from Rose Vandenberg, always a threat to score.

But with the game drawing close to its conclusion and both defenses feeling the effects of fatigue, Vandenberg got her chance and she made the most of it.

In the closing minutes, the Hollister forward managed to shrug off Gilroy’s Nicole Hovey, who had been doing an outstanding defensive job on Vandenberg all game, and looked up at open field. Gilroy keeper Sara Hugo charged out of the box to tried to make a play on Vandenberg before she could get a shot off.

But the ‘Baler star got her foot on the ball before Hugo could close the gap, and from more than 30 yards out, Vandenberg lifted a shot high into the air that somehow managed to keep itself on a straight line and find its way into the Mustangs’ net for the game’s only score.

“I was getting kind of frustrated at that point,” Vandenberg said.. “I was getting double- and triple-teamed all game. So I just kind of pushed (Hovey) off and took the shot.”

But while it was the Haybalers who won the game on Vandenberg’s late-game heroics, the Mustangs were completely in charge of the ball for the majority of the game, which meant a lot of work for Hollister’s Ashley Perreira.

Perreira was in charge of defending the Haybaler goal by virtue of Mary Von Urff being out-of-town due to a death in the family. Despite her inexperience in the net, Perreira time and again made the necessary stops to keep her team in the game.

Even in the game’s final three minutes – with the Mustangs really putting pressure on San Benito’s defense – Perreira turned the opposition away every time. Just before the final whistle, Gilroy’s Amanda Bruce sent a corner kick into a crowd of players, a perfect opportunity for a header attempt. But Perreira got up in the air and punched the incoming ball out of harm’s way.

“(Perreira) had a fantastic game today,” said Balers head coach Mike Schurig. “She really played with a lot of confidence.”

The Mustangs look to bounce back Monday with a 5:30 home game against Notre Dame.

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