Orcutt Academy's girls soccer team did a lot of things right in a 3-0 Ocean League win over crosstown rival Pioneer Valley at Orcutt Community Park Thursday.
"If we play in the playoffs the way we did today, we'll be tough to beat," said Orcutt coach Brian Speer after his team moved to 16-5-2, 8-2 and stayed in first place.
"We really controlled the ball well in the first half. In the second half we let up some, but still it was a pretty solid effort."
The Spartans were top-ranked in the latest CIF Central Section Division 4 poll. A top divisional ranking is uncharted waters for an Orcutt Academy girls soccer team. A new poll is due out Friday.
Pioneer Valley is 5-14-1, 2-9.
The Spartans got rolling early. Marianna Chavez scored in the sixth minute. The Panthers never really came close to scoring afterward.
A Mecaelea Lopez free kick went off Pioneer Valley goalkeeper Amaya Yebra's hands and over the line for a goal in the 32nd minute. A well-struck corner kick by Hope Smith went off Yebra's hands and into the goal in the 21st minute after intermission.
Yebra did keep the score from being more one-sided by stopping several Orcutt threats, and beat Ali Stockman to the ball late in the game to thwart a promising-looking Orcutt threat.
Chavez, Lopez and Smith put consistent pressure on for Orcutt in the first half, and Stockman helped the Spartans dominate the midfield area in the first half.
Roxanna Vargas played solid defense for the Panthers, but the possession time was lopsidedly in favor of the Spartans.
The Panthers had a hard time getting anything past Orcutt defender Kira Hopkins whenever they did get the ball deep into Orcutt territory.
"Our defensive alignment is such that we always have an extra defender back," said Hopkins. The strategy certainly worked Thursday.
In fact, "I think our defense is what's improved most from last year to this," said Chavez.
Chavez said the Spartans are playing some of their best soccer now. Speer concurred.
"We're coming back from injuries, we're getting healthy, and I think we can carry this (momentum into the playoffs)," said Speer.
"We have two tough games coming up next week though. We play Morro Bay Monday (3:15 p.m., Orcutt Community Park) and Santa Maria Wednesday," to close out the regular season.
"Morro Bay took us to overtime and we beat Santa Maria on penalty kicks."
Pioneer Valley will host Templeton at 6 p.m. Monday on its Senior Night to wrap up the Panthers' regular season.
"Today wasn't our day," said Pioneer Valley coach Bilena Brafman. "We'll have another day."
St. Joseph 5, Paso Robles 2
Zorah Coulibaly scored twice for the Knights in a critical Mountain League win over Paso Robles Thursday.
The Knights led 3-0 at the break.
Avery Nelson got St. Joseph's first goal, scoring unassisted on a rebound.
Then Coulibaly scored on a penalty kick.
Bella Cosma added to the Knights' lead on a goal, scoring off a corner kick from Eva Datuin.
The Knights went up 4-1 on a goal from Julie Corteguera in the second half. Kayla Lopez supplied the assist off a corner kick.
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Then Coulibaly struck in the second half for her second goal with an assist coming from Bella Aldridge.
St. Joseph coach Al Garcia noted that Coulibaly, a freshman, has 12 goals on the season.
"The defense played great," Garcia said. "The defensive line was impressive. It was our Senior Night so the three seniors got to play most of the game. Brianna Flores was tremendous in the back."
St. Joseph's keeper Genesis Rodriguez made nine saves.
The Knights wrap up the regular season Wednesday with a game at Atascadero.
Santa Ynez 8, Cabrillo 1
The Pirates raced out to a 3-0 lead by halftime and erupted for five second-half goals.
Santa Ynez senior Nico Rocha had two goals and two assists, as did teammate Erik Guerrero.
Diego Reynoso, Bryan Garcia, Diego Zepeda and Grant Fieldhouse each added goals for the Pirates.
Edgar Guerrero and Aiden Simm had one save apiece.
The Pirates are now 11-4-1 overall and 5-2-1 in league, good enough for second place behind Santa Barbara.
“The boys played well, it was 3-0 at halftime and we just started rolling," Santa Ynez coach Rick Joyner said. "We got used to the field, they play on real grass and we play on turf. It took some time to adjust, but they played real well.”
Rick Joyner has continued to be impressed with Rocha and Erik Guerrero.
“He’s really stepped it up. Nico is a senior and a big leader out there," Joyner said. "He gets the plays going and gets the offense started. Him and Erik both do a good job.”
The Pirates host San Marcos on Monday night then close out the regular season Wednesday against Lompoc.
"If we win both of those we go into the playoffs as the second-place team," Joyner said. "Having a Division 1 team (Santa Barbara) leading the league and us, a Division 4 team, being second is a pretty good showing.”
Cabrillo 67, Santa Ynez 41
It was a night of mixed emotions when the Santa Ynez Pirates hosted the Cabrillo Conquistadores in a Channel League girls basketball game.
It was Senior Night, where the Pirates seniors from both teams in a pre-game ceremony.
But the joy turned to sadness when Santa Ynez senior Quincy Valle went down with an injury right at the halftime buzzer.
Valle was trying to beat the buzzer with a half-court jump shot that would have cut the Cabrillo to two.
When she came down, she doubled over in pain and it was obvious that something serious happened.
Valle was taken to the hospital where it was determined that she broke her right ankle and tore ligaments.
The Pirates trailed by five, 33-28, at the half but they lost to more players to injury in the second half.
When Cabrillo went on a 12-0 run early in the third quarter, the undermanned Pirates were in a deep hole from which they couldn’t recover.
Thea Reagan led Cabrillo with 14 points.
Morgan McIntyre added 11.