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Hawks top Shamrocks on penalty kicks
Gila Ridge girls soccer coach Kristal Goodell said improved passing was the difference for her team in the Hawks' first win of the season.
Yuma Catholic coach Jesus Quintana said his team's passing cost the Shamrocks.
But there was no passing involved in the final outcome, a 2-1 win in penalty kicks on Monday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The Hawks (1-3) had lost their first three games this year by a combined score of 14-4, having played Kofa and Cibola — Division I schools. A Division II team, the Hawks welcomed the Division III Shamrocks (1-2) to their home.
“We had a really rough start to our season and a very intense, challenging start of our season,” Goodell said. “This is a good team and we played well.”
The Hawks kicked first during the PK session. Tied at three heading into the fifth round, Ciara Machin connected along the ground and to the left side of the net past Mikaela Jackson — the same spot the previous three Hawks hit as well.
YC sophomore Josie Quiroz had a chance to extend the game, but her shot went too far to the left.
“I definitely don't like deciding the game on penalty kicks,” Quintana said. “It's a tough way to end the game, and it puts a lot more pressure on the players, both the kickers and the goalkeeper. But unfortunately that's the way the game goes.”
The Hawks opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when Teryn Hill fired a shot from the left side above the net off a corner kick. It went crossed into the top right past Jackson.
With 17:51 left in the game, the Shamrocks got their first goal when Ashley DeCorse rocketed a shot from 25 yards out.
“We played so well,” King said. “I'm so happy. It was difficult (to start the season winless), but I think it was good for our team to be challenged at the beginning. We got our skills down and now continuing the season we can grow and win some more games.”
The teams opened the penalty kick session with misses. King's first shot sailed high over the center of the net while Krysta Aitken's was blocked by Amy Neidiffer. The next three shots per team all went in — only Janell Orzco of YC did anything other than a roller to the left corner when she sailed a shot into the upper right corner for the third Shamrock goal.
“It's the most nerve-wracking thing to a soccer player,” King said. “But we just have to stay positive and keep it low.”
Goodell said she expects her team to turn the corner after the gritty win.
“I think it's a big morale booster for the girls,” Goodell said. “They had a few rough games, but we're going to continue season like this.”
The Shamrocks are back in action tonight when they travel to Buckeye, a team they've already defeated this year.
Quintana said he was already missing two players heading into Monday's match, and that was before starters Jackie Hill and Kalaina Barnett left in the first half.
“It's been a tough start to our season with so many injuries,” Quintana said. “We've had a lot of kids sick and a number of players, two starters already plus two others tonight. It's not an excuse, everybody goes through it, but we need to learn to deal with it.”