PASO ROBLES — The Templeton Eagles girls varsity soccer team hosted Orcutt Academy in a fight for the league championship and emerged victorious in a wet and wacky two overtime game last Friday night, 4-3, to earn the title.
THS extended their season Wednesday with a 2-0 win in the opening round of the playoffs.
“I think we were very fortunate. It was a very competitive league,” girls head coach Mario Perez said. “Nobody was a pushover, every game was really close, one or two goal wins. I like the new league, the new adjustment and I am looking forward to next year because I think a lot of the teams will improve.”
However, despite winning the league title and holding the best goal differential in Ocean League play at plus 14, the Eagles (seeded eighth) were still somehow seeded lower than the Orcutt Academy Spartans (seeded sixth) by the CIF Central Section.
As the eighth seed, the girls hosted their opening round playoff game on Wednesday evening at War Memorial Stadium in Paso Robles due to weather concerns. Thankfully the rain and the wind never showed during the game and had minimal effect on the game.
It was clear early that the Eagles were the superior team on the pitch as they began pinging the ball around defenders early and often. The Eagles’ biggest advantage was in the speed department and they capitalized on it.
“I am extremely proud of them and what I think was working was playing over the top,” Perez said following the game. “Because they were playing a 3-5-2 and we were exploiting them on the outside and forcing them to defend us one-on-one and I think we had the speed and the skill and that was the biggest difference.”
Neither team was able to grab consistent possession for the first 10 minutes of the game as both teams adjusted to the speed of the turf until junior captain Lauryn Simmons got the ball and streaked down the sideline like a cheetah in the Serengeti. Simmons ran right past her defender and served the ball into the box. Sophomore Lindsay English was waiting on the pass and put it in the back of the net for her first goal of the season.
“I was really excited and shocked,” English said who had only subbed into the game 10 minutes prior to scoring.
Templeton had many opportunities to add goals in this one but had trouble finishing in the final third of the field. Sophomore Siena Sagely created many opportunities in the middle of the field playing fast and aggressive.
“I think all of us knew once we stepped on the field what we needed to do,” Sagely said. “And we just showed up and played our game, connected passes and just out possessed and outplayed them.”
The Eagles continued to dominate the game in the second half with their speed becoming even more of a factor they continued to fly into the open space in corners on the field before crossing balls into the box.
“Our passing was really great and our one-two balls,” English said. “We really played as a team today. Sometimes we like to play individually but as we clicked as a team it really helped us and just our passing was our main thing especially on this fast turf like that.”
It looked like the Eagles were going to walk away with just a 1-0 victory until the final minute of the game when English got loose and buried another goal in the back of the net with barely more than 30 seconds to go in the game.
“Those are my first two goals of the season playing with this team,” English said with a beaming smile. “And basically I was just really excited and it helped my confidence build up towards the end there.”
With the victory, the Eagles are on to the second round where they will have to face top-seeded San Joaquin Memorial in Fresno on Friday night.