ATASCADERO — The Greyhounds and Bearcats met each other for the second time this season with major PAC 8 implications on the line. With the Bearcats defeating Arroyo Grande on Wednesday, Friday’s game was for second place in league.
The Greyhounds are 16-4-1 on the season and 9-3 in league. Atascadero came into the game riding a three-game winning streak after defeating Righetti, Mission Prep and St. Joe.
The Bearcats came into the game 12-5-3 on the season and 7-3-1 in league. Last Wednesday, the Paso Robles girls beat third place Arroyo Grande at home, 2-1. It was a huge win for the Bearcats, who lost to AG the first time the two teams played in league. Giselle Zatarain and Taylor Perez each scored for Paso and Alexis Serna recorded 14 saves in the win at War Memorial Stadium.
Friday night, Atascadero High School hosted a double header between Atascadero and Paso Robles. The girls played first at 4 p.m. with the boys starting their game at 6 p.m. The Lady Bearcats beat the Hounds in their first matchup, shaking up the PAC 8 standings, but this time the Hounds entered the game with another level of focus.
“It was definitely a big deal because it was for third or second place,” Atascadero’s Lexi Setting said.
The Hounds took control of the match early. Junior forward Hailey Pires and sophomore Kiana Subia kept constant pressure on the Bearcat defense, forcing Serna to make a number of great saves to keep the game scoreless.
A Serena Ramirez header clanked off the top post as the crowd grew ancy. Pires skyed a shot over the goal at point blank range as the ominous memories of how the last game ended seemed to descend into everyone's subconscious. The Bearcats scored an early goal in their first matchup and relied on their excellent goalkeeper to record a blank sheet, and she did.
After several chances, the Hounds finally broke through. Pires found some open space inside the 18-yard box, looked up to see a charging Serna, and precisely lifted the ball in the air over the head of the keeper and into the back the of the net.
Atascadero did not let look comfortable with a one goal lead, especially against a team with such an effective counter attack, and continued to push. Paso trailed Atascadero 1-0 at halftime.
The second half played out very similarly to the first. For the Hounds, Setting was the main playmaker and finally got her shot at goal a few minutes into the second period. The senior captain struck the ball from nearly 30 yards out and everyone watched as the ball spun in the air with the warm tones of the evening sky painted behind it. After what seemed like a minute in the air, the ball finally touched the back of the net and the celebration was on.
“I just thought ‘Take a shot, it's worth it, we are only up one,’” Setting said. “So, I just took it and I was actually surprised it went in. I didn't think it was going to go that well.”
Atiana Stratman had a chance late to score for the Bearcats but Greyhounds goalie Claire Lohayza came out for the sliding save. The Greyhounds won the game 2-0 taking control of second place in the PAC 8.
“For the seniors, its our last team rival game of Atascadero versus Paso, so that was a big deal to just win,” Setting said.
Both teams will finish their season this week and begin preparation for a potential postseason run.