Gilroy High's Vanessa Corona, left, and Christopher High's Malia Harding battle for the ball during the teams' league game on Jan. 26. (Jonathan Natividad/Gilroy Dispatch)

There was no shortage of thrills in last week’s friendly cross-town rivalry match between Gilroy and Christopher High girls’ soccer teams. 

On a clear, pleasant night, both squads had success mixed with some struggles, and the real winners were probably the several hundred fans from both schools in attendance.

Amidst a crescendo of cheers for offensive runs and crowd chants for defense, an exciting contest ended after 80 minutes of play in a 1-1 draw in league action on Jan. 26.

The Mustangs scored on a rebound goal by Annaliese Lerma in the 17th minute and the Cougars knotted the contest with a 25-yard blast by Ella Oetinger on a free kick in the 37th. 

Both teams were strong in the first half and Gilroy drove the action in the second half. 

“We would’ve liked to win, but I’m also happier with a 1-1 tie than with a 1-0 loss,” Christopher coach Matt Oetinger said. “We played more our style in the first half, with quality of play and connection. Things got a little chaotic in the second half. It was an emotionally charged game for the girls with the crowd. We are a young team and this was part of the learning process.”

The deadlock kept Gilroy on top of the Blossom Valley Athletic League Santa Teresa East Division standings with a 4-0-2 record in league play, and 10-2-3 overall. 

Santa Teresa is in second place at 2-0-3, followed by Christopher (4-5-7, 1-1-4) which is in third place in a virtual tie with Live Oak (3-7-4, 1-1-2). 

After starting the season 2-3, Christopher has dropped just two games in the past 11 contests, including a 1-0 loss at Gilroy on Jan. 10. Several matches resulted in draws but the progress is impressive. 

Even scoring one goal against Gilroy is noteworthy, as the Mustangs had allowed just eight scores in 14 previous matches.

The result kept Gilroy in first place in the division, continuing a superb season. The Mustangs lost their Nov. 30 opener to Soledad and acclaimed star Sophia Martel by 2-0.

Since then, only a 1-0 loss to Aptos has marred their overall record. Thus, in a nearly two-month stretch, the Mustangs have nailed 10 wins and three ties in 14 contests, with just seven goals allowed. 

Gilroy coach Efren Pineda said he didn’t know how the season would turn out at the beginning, but his squad’s progress and success has been a delight. 

Although the Mustangs did not win on Friday night, the result and the way they played were in line with their very successful season.

“I think we came out and played well tonight,” Pineda said. “Our backline and our midfielders were fine and we did not get many shots on us. It was a really good game and very enjoyable.”

Kamryn Krejdovsky, Madison Krejdovsky and Jade Moncada led the early play for Gilroy, while Mulia Harding and Alyssa Montejano were strong for Christopher. 

Brooklyn Rosa sparkled on the back line for the Cougars. But then suddenly, Gilroy jumped on an opportunity with Moncada and Annelise Lerma combining to put the Mustangs first on the scoreboard.

“I saw the ball being crossed to Jade,” Lerma said. “She got a shot and it was blocked. It went off the keeper and ricocheted to her right, which is my left. I shot it in by the post, up and across. It was super nice to score and help my team.”

The Krejdovsky sisters, Zinnette Diaz and Natalia Arvizu pushed hard for Gilroy. Christopher’s back line, including Rosa, Madison Guerriero, Kyla Velasco and Lizzy Jaimes, along with keeper Victoria Ogieriakhi, held the fort.

The Cougars attacked with Harding, Ella Oetinger and Sophia Contreras. In the 37th minute, Oetinger tied the contest with a spectacular free kick from about 25 yards out. The rocket was perfectly placed just above the outstretched arm of Gilroy keeper Brooklynn Epps but just below the crossbar.

“I’ve been working on it the past couple months,” Ella Oetinger said. “I step back four steps but I usually go for the corners. This one was straight on. It felt pretty good. I haven’t scored on one of them in a while.”

Oetinger was mobbed by her teammates and the contest headed into halftime a few minutes later at 1-1. The second half was controlled by Gilroy with Rosa, Ogieriakhi and other Cougars fending off the fury.

“It was more our style in the first half,” Ella Oetinger said. “The second half was a little chaotic. But I’m proud of us for tying the number one team in the league.”

The white-clad Mustangs had many threats in the second half. The Cougars countered at times. Harding, described by Matt Oetinger as a skilled scorer who is very quick with her feet, delivered the most dangerous attacks. 

Against the talented Mustangs, Ella Oetinger showed gritty play and Rosa was stellar in the back.

“Brooklyn Rosa is a very skilled freshman,” Matt Oetinger said. “She is an incredible defender, She’s ‘lights out’ back there. Time and time again, she comes and cleans things up for us.”

The Cougars also received contributions from Bryce Davis, Hannah Sandoval, Sophia Contreras and Mea Gonzalez.

Gilroy’s second half push was furious and unrelenting. Kamryn Krejdovsky passed to Carillo, who unleashed a laser shot but it was high. 

Freshman Hailey Moncada smashed a hard ball but keeper Ogieriakhi gobbled it up. Lerma and Jade Moncada also had chances. 

Dahlia Saavedra ripped a ball at the goal but it was wide left. Addison Tait and Zinnette Diaz supported from the back. Vanessa Corona, Aliyah Garcia, Kiara Prophet and Bryanna Gales contributed.

“In the second half, we neutralized their attack,” Pineda said. “We were getting the ball to our fast players. And we had good communication with our midfielders and backs.”
Christopher’s wins have come against Sobrato, Capuchino, Lynbrook and Mt. Pleasant. The Cougars have recorded ties with Fremont, Lincoln, Pioneer Valley, Live Oak, Evergreen Valley and Silver Creek.

“We’ve been progressing,” Matt Oetinger said. “We’re a young team. We have eight freshmen on the varsity. They are coming into their own and maturing. Improving every day. They have improved as a unit and have become more connected.”

Gilroy’s wins have come against Sobrato, Santa Teresa, Yerba Buena, Hollister, Monterey, Alisal, Christopher, Mt. Pleasant, Live Oak and Evergreen Valley. Ties have been with Monte Vista Christian, Silver Creek and Christopher.

“The season has progressed really well,” Pineda said. “We have meshed well. We communicate well. And our center backs keep the group connected and tight.”

Gilroy will host both Mt. Pleasant and Silver Creek on Jan. 31 and Feb. 2, respectively. Both games are slated for a 7pm kickoff.  

Christopher plays at Live Oak on Jan. 31 and will host Evergreen Valley on Feb. 2. Both games are scheduled to start at 7pm.

Previous articleSpoking My Mind: Resolutions, ravioli and rural rides
Next articleGilroy Police blotter, Jan. 23-28, 2024


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here