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Girls soccer: Kahlia Lopez tallies twice, St. Joseph salvages tie with Orcutt Academy

Girls soccer: Kahlia Lopez tallies twice, St. Joseph salvages tie with Orcutt Academy

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There were a lot of near-misses in this one, and St. Joseph had most of them.

Ultimately, thanks to two Kahlia Lopez goals, the Knights salvaged a 2-2 tie with Santa Maria Valley rival Orcutt Academy Wednesday night in a non-league girls soccer game at St. Joseph's Jay Will Stadium.

The Spartans (1-0-2) stayed unbeaten on the young season. The Knights are 2-1-1.

His team didn't get a win, but veteran St. Joseph coach Al Garcia seemed happy enough with the result.

"We have a very young team this year," said Garcia. "We have five freshmen.

"Not all of them start, but the majority of them start. We have a very fast team. It's exciting to watch."

Kahlia Lopez answered twice after Orcutt Academy goals, the first by Mecaelea Lopez in the 11th minute of the first half and the second by Ciarra Luna-Vasquez, from just about dead center in the St. Joseph penalty box, in the 39th.

Both Orcutt goalies, Ally Britt in the first half and Abigail Valencia in the second, were solid but Kahlia Lopez scored her goals on hard shots that went off the goalies' hands. She scored her last goal on a corner kick from the right side in the 16th minute of the second half.

As for the near misses, in the first half alone:

A St. Joseph shot hit the right post. The rebound shot missed as well.

A St. Joseph corner kick from the right side grazed the top post and caromed forward.

Britt dived and, with her left hand, knocked away a Knights shot that appeared to be headed into the net.

With the ball behind Britt, Orcutt Academy defender Kira Hopkins knocked the shot out of the goal area.

With the ball behind St. Joseph goalkeeper Breanna Sonsini, Knights defender Eva Datuin, inches in front of the goal line, headed the ball out of the goal area.

Besides, Sonsini made a big save on an Orcutt breakaway in the second half. Valencia made two solid saves herself.

Orcutt Academy coach Brian Speer admitted the Knights' team speed caught his team off guard at the outset.

"They came out very fast. We weren't ready for the speed of some of their players," he said. "It took us 15 minutes to really get settled in.

"Then, with players getting hurt and cramping, we had to change defenses a lot."

The Orcutt coach said, 'We're going to drink more water," before the Spartans' 6 p.m. Thursday night game at Santa Maria Valley rival Righetti. Spartans went down briefly several times with cramps Wednesday night.

One of the handful of St.. Joseph freshmen, striker Zorah Coulibaly, was the swiftest player on the pitch Wednesday night. Though the Spartans came away with a tie, Coulibaly, with her quick moves and foot speed on the ball and off it, was a handful all night for the visitors.

"She's a beast," said Garcia. "She's very quick. Zorah leads our team in goals with five and Kahlia, with her two tonight, is right behind her."

Meanwhile, Speer said, "Marianna Chavez assisted on our first goal. We can always count on quality minutes from her. Vanessa Lopez was all over the pitch tonight for us. She finished at center back," on defense

Men's basketball

Hancock 77, Santa Monica 76

Pioneer Valley graduate Nick Chapman led balanced Hancock scoring with 17 points as the Bulldogs (8-1) squeezed out a non-conference win at Santa Monica (6-3).

Kyle Harding and Mayowa Akinsanya put in 13 points apiece for the Bulldogs. DJ Searcy had 10.

Isaiah Simpson scored a game-high 19 points for the Corsairs. Daisone Hughes put in 17 and Cabrillo graduate LeAndrew Knight had 13. Simpson, with nine, was one rebound away from a double-double.

Searcy and Xavier Cooper, on the Hancock side, were each tagged with a technical foul. Knight also incurred a technical.      

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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