Four first-half goals were plenty to set the No. 5 Live Oak Acorns ahead of the curve en route to a 6-0 victory over No. 12 Christopher High in the opening round of the Central Coast Section Division II girls soccer playoffs on a warmer-than-usual late-winter Wednesday in Morgan Hill.
“The girls knew this was going to be a tough game,” said CHS head coach Janae Pimentel, who won a section title as a senior with Live Oak in 2004. “It’s an experience, and the only way to get better is to go through something like this. Now we know what it’s like at this level.”
Despite the lopsided outcome against an experienced Acorns bunch that finished runner-up in the same division a season ago, the up-and-coming Cougars (12-7-2) still managed to relish in their first postseason experience.
“It was great,” said Paulina Llamas, one of six freshman, with a thumbs up. “Making the playoffs was our goal from the beginning.”
Led by veteran head coach Tony Vasquez and a pair of San Jose State-bound seniors, Megan Rauschnot and Sami Riolo, the Acorns spread the field well and quickly showcased their seasoned, poised play, jumping ahead 1-0 in the second minute. Junior Macey Dunne stood alone near the top of the left-hand corner of the 18-yard box, having plenty of time to pick her top shelf location. Aime Mendieta made it 2-0 three-and-a-half minutes later, pin-pointing a right-footer inside the left crossbar. It was 3-0 after Shannon Rauschnot’s tally in the 19th minute. Amber Thomas toed in a long thrown in inside of the 39th minute to lift Live Oak to its commanding halftime cushion.
“They were fast and they passed the ball really well,” freshman Evangalina Loredo said.
The Cougars did manufacture two shots on goal in the second half, but not before goals from Riolo and Carly Kyle had the Acorns ahead 6-0.
“I’m not disappointed with their effort,” Pimentel said. “We tried to change our formation a little bit. But overall, they tried their hardest, and that’s all that matters. I’m happy with how our season went.”
CHS goalie Lauren Ginn was kept busy the entire 80 minutes. The sophomore made 19 saves, including one on an Acorns’ penalty kick in the first half – and even then she had to stop it twice after she moved from her set position prior to the first attempt, which resulted in the referee rewarding a second try.
“Last year, we just wanted to do OK. This year, we really wanted to get here,” Ginn said. “We just worked hard and knew exactly what we wanted.”
Ginn is one of eight sophomore expected back next season.
“This gives us a goal for next year,” Loredo said.
The Acorns move on to face No. 4 Pioneer in San Jose on Saturday.