PASO ROBLES — In the final installment of Atascadero vs. Paso Week, the Greyhounds and Lady Bearcats faced off in the pool.
Both the Hounds and the Bearcats have had phenomenal seasons to this point and this game had a lot of league implications on the line. The Greyhounds have, at times, climbed all the way into the top ten rankings this season, and the Bearcats have made their way into the top 15.
Earlier this year, the Hounds took down Righetti for the first time in seven in years and last week the Bearcats almost ended Arroyo Grande’s ludicrous league winning streak, but lost by one goal.
The Greyhounds entered the game undefeated in league at 2-0 while the Bearcats were 2-1, with their lone loss coming at the hands of AG. The winner of Tuesday’s game would be in second place in league with only two games to go in the season.
The stands at the Paso Robles municipal pool were full. The bleachers at the south end of the pool were covered in Crimson while those running east to west were draped in orange. Seemingly every parent had a camera in hand, ready to capture a moment that will last a lifetime.
From the second the whistle blew there was a different feel to the game than any other this season. The passion of both coaches could be heard in their voices as they barked out instructions to their girls over the cheers of spectating parents.
The Bearcats struck first when captain Mackenzie Raymond swam past the Greyhound defense for a fast break and finished with a lob shot over the head of Atascadero goalie Tina Bell (in the deep end).
Less than 30 seconds later the Hounds tied the game up on an Evy Cooper goal from
The second quarter belonged to the Greyhounds, and more specifically Summer Tietje. The senior scored the only two goals in the second quarter and gave Atascadero a 3-2 lead at halftime. While Tietje was scoring on offense, Bell was just warming up
“I was definitely really nervous going into it,” Bell said. “But with the team’s support, and Conrad’s pep talks, it definitely got a lot smoother during the game and I got more confident and less stressed.”
With 30 seconds left in the third quarter, Paso’s Tatiana Smeltzer had a chance to tie the game at three apiece with a 5-meter penalty shot in the deep end. At the sound of the whistle, Bell lunged to her right and deflected Smeltzer’s shot wide.
“It was kind of upsetting not to score over here [in the deep end],” Smeltzer said. “But Tina Bell is a great goalie and I guess I just need to aim for top corners next time.”
The block by Bell (which can be seen below) changed the momentum of the game. The Hounds sideline erupted and the girls began swimming harder. Atascadero added three more goals in the fourth quarter and won the game 6-3.
“I think it was kind of a chess match in the beginning,” Atascadero Head Coach Jon Conrad said. “I think Paso was just as tight as we were, and we were down at the end of the first quarter… but I just reminded them who they were, and how well they have been playing this year, and what they are capable of, and they believe it.”
Atascadero is now 3-0 in league with their last league game coming against Arroyo Grande. The Hounds are excited to play the Eagles and want to be the team to end their winning streak.
“We are really confident, especially knowing that AG only beat Paso by one and so we are really excited for what is to come.”