More progress

A resurgent season for the Gilroy High girls’ soccer team
continued with another important step Wednesday.
Morgan Hill – A resurgent season for the Gilroy High girls’ soccer team continued with another important step Wednesday.

The Mustangs managed a 2-2 tie against the Tri-County Athletic League’s perennial pace-setter – defending Central Coast Section Division I co-champion Live Oak. That’s a point in the standings the Mustangs are happy to take, especially as they proceed with their turnaround of last year’s winless league record. Gilroy turned in a determined effort against a team that just last season beat them by a combined score of 12-0 in two matches.

This season is going to be a different story, though, as evidenced by last night’s match in front of a sizable crowd under the lights at Live Oak High’s Richert Field.

Gilroy (11-4-1, 2-1-1 in TCAL) hung with the talented Acorns (3-6-3, 2-0-1 overall) long enough to take advantage of a few fortunate calls and forge the deadlock. Twice after Live Oak took short-lived leads, an official’s call gave the ‘Stangs the opportunity to tie the match, opportunities they cashed in on.

Mustang Amanda Bruce scored her team’s first goal on a penalty kick after a Live Oak foul in the box that left the Acorn player lying injured on the ground. Bruce set up Alysha Davis for a second tally off a corner kick awarded to the Mustangs after it appeared Gilroy had knocked the ball out of bounds.

“We played hard and we weren’t sure what to expect,” Hernandez said. “I’m proud of the fact that we didn’t put our heads down, and we actually had a few officiating calls go our way for a change. But we deserved them.”

Gilroy outhustled a bigger, more physical Live Oak team for much of the match, and the Mustang players put themselves in position to benefit from the disputed calls.

The same could not be said for the Acorns, who created plenty of scoring opportunities for themselves thanks to the work of speedy, high-scoring Michelle McDonald, but couldn’t muster the motivation to convert more than a pair of them.

“Gilroy played hard but after playing against Mitty and Notre Dame-Belmont, dropping into the league is kind of a letdown,” Vasquez said. “I think it’s more mental than anything. There were a couple of questionable calls but that’s part of the game. I don’t have a problem with that. I think it’s more about our girls thinking they can walk through league. They don’t understand that we’re CCS champs and for these teams this is their CCS when they play us.”

For most of the first half, McDonald was clearly the best player on the field, and often took three or four Mustang defenders off the dribble en route to creating a shot for herself or a teammate. But nothing found its mark.

Gilroy woke up midway through the first half after surviving the initial Live Oak onslaught and began playing with more determination, creating its own scoring chances.

Late in the first half, the officials signaled their intentions by slapping both McDonald and fellow forward Jamie Hickey with yellow cards for rough play.

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