Dani Mendoza scored on a free kick in the 20th minute and the Hanford High School girls soccer team survived an offensive onslaught from Southridge on a chilly Tuesday night in Kennewick to preserve a 1-0 win over the Mid-Columbia Conference’s top team.
It was the sixth consecutive win for the Falcons (9-3, 8-2 MCC), and it kept them at the top of the conference’s Class 4A teams and moved them 1/2 game behind the Suns (12-1, 10-1).
“This was huge, credit to Southridge, they’re a really good team, but I’m so proud of how our girls played tonight,” Hanford coach Kaylie Winston said. “They battled, and you could see how much they wanted this win.”
Mendoza’s direct kick came from about 30 yards out and appeared to catch the Southridge defense off guard as it slipped through the penalty box practically untouched and found its way into the bottom left corner of the goal.
“Dani Mendoza served in a great free kick and it was just crazy in the box so it skipped right past the keeper,” Winston said. “She hit a laser.”
Two minutes later, Mendoza nearly did it again as another of her set piece kicks found the foot of a cutting Hanford player to the far post, but the shot went just a bit wide of goal.
Southridge possessed the ball well in the first half but had trouble getting forward to attack. Coach Greg Sambrano shuffled up the Suns’ lineup in the second half — which included moving defender Haley Thomas up to center midfielder — and that created plenty of offensive chances as Southridge racked up 24 total shots and forced goalkeeper Kelsee Winston to make 15 saves.
But in the end, the Hanford keeper came up with the clean sheet, and the Suns and their coach were understandably frustrated.
“I think we needed to come out the first half and play the way we did in the second half,” Sambrano said. “I think we created some good chances in the second half, but we just can’t seem to find the back of the net when it really matters.”
The absence of scoring wasn’t for lack of trying.
In the 29th minute, forward Syd Sanders caught a corner kick on her foot and beat Winston from a few yards out, but had the shot deflected just in front of the goal by a Hanford defender.
Coming out of halftime, the Suns earned a corner and Emma Schutt used it to put a shot on goal, corral her rebound, and put another shot on Winston that was pushed out for another corner. Emily Russell received that kick and then fired a shot toward the top shelf from 20 yards out that Winston knocked over the cross bar.
Then in the 70th minute, Morgan Nelson dove into the middle of a chaotic box to win a free shot from point-blank range that Winston somehow stopped.
Kaylie Winston said the performance by her younger sister was just another day at the office.
“I don’t think there’s been one game where she hasn’t had to make a huge save, but tonight I think there were probably 10 huge saves,” Kaylie Winston said. “But we expect her to do that in the back, we don’t expect anything less, and she doesn’t expect anything less from herself.
“Our defense played really well, too. I thought we limited their chances, and when they did get chances we expected Kelsee to save them.”
Class 3A competitor Kamiakin lost to Chiawana on Tuesday, which kept Southridge’s 2 game lead on the division in tact with three games left to play. The Suns and Braves wrap up their regular season schedules against each other on Oct. 22.
Scoring: H, Dani Mendoza G. Shots: H 6, SR 24. Saves: H, Kelsee Winston 15; SR, Tiara Valadez 3.
CHIAWANA 2, KAMIAKIN 1: Lyndsey Ellingsen and Summer Yates connected for the Riverhawks (7-4, 7-4) in an MCC road win over the Braves (7-4, 8-5).
Aaliyah Valladares notched Kamiakin’s goal.
Scoring: Lyndsey Ellingsen (C) 1G; Summer Yates (C) 1G; Aaliyah Valladares (K) 1G; Maddie Morgan (K) 1A. Shots: Kamiakin 7, Chiawana 7. Saves: Chiawana, Alisha Ramos 4. Kamiakin, Grace Wilbur 5.
ELLENSBURG 1, PROSSER 0: Josie Williams made seven saves for the host Mustangs, but Ellory Ferris got a free kick past her in the 15th minute to lead the Bulldogs to the CWAC win.
Ellensburg (7-5-1, 5-1 CWAC) and Prosser (8-4-1, 4-2) entered the day tied for first in the conference with Grandview, Selah and Othello.
Prosser had 13 shots to Ellensburg’s eight.
“We had opportunities; their goalie just saved them,” Prosser coach Ricky Ruiz said. “She did a great job of deflecting the ball or, one way or another, getting a body part on the ball and changing the direction of it.”
Prosser visits Grandview on Saturday.
Scoring: Ellory Ferris (E) 1G. Shots: E 8, P 13. Saves: E, N/A 13. P, Josie Williams 7.
OTHELLO 2, SELAH 0: Nikki Velazquez scored twice to push her season total up to 25, and the Huskies (9-3-1, 5-1 CWAC) won a key CWAC road match against the Vikings (9-3-1, 4-2) to move into a tie with Ellensburg atop the conference.
Velazquez scored a penalty kick in the sixth minute after a handball by Selah, tucking a shot perfectly in the bottom left corner away from Lilly Kikendall. The second goal came after Rilee Heist set her up with a through ball from 18 yards out, and Velazquez shook her mark to make for an easy score.
In the 10th minute, Othello was called for a handball in its penalty box, but keeper Jenelle Garza made a potentially game-saving stop on the PK, which coach Bernie Garza called the Huskies’ key to victory.
“That goal would have changed the whole momentum of the match,” Garza said.
Othello faces cellar-dwellers Wapato and Toppenish in its final week of the season, but will have one last tough test against against the Ephrata Tigers, who are 4-2 in league play.
Scoring: O, Nikki Velazquez 2G; Rilee Heist 1A. Shots: O 14, S 13. Saves: O, Jenelle Garza 12; S, Lilly Kikendall 6.
KIONA-BENTON 2, WARDEN 1: Cierra Vickerman had a goal and an assist to lead the Bears (12-1, 9-0 SCAC East) to a road win over the Cougars (9-3, 7-2).
Ariel Loften also scored for Ki-Be.
Scoring: KB, Ariel Loften 1G; Cierra Vickerman 1G, 1A; Hunter Anderson 1A. Saves: KB, Mickey Ramirez.
WAHLUKE 1, ROYAL 0: Celeste Lopez scored in the 63rd minute, and the Warriors (7-5, 5-4 SCAC East) defeated the Knights (5-5, 3-5) in Royal City. Brenda Nolasco stopped three shots for Wahluke.
Scoring: W, Celeste Lopez 1G. Shots: W 4, R 5. Saves: W, Brenda Nolasco 3. R, Denisse Arroyo 2.