Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
The Madera girls soccer team congratulates Mia Alvarez after her free kick tied the game against Sanger on Tuesday.
Not once, but twice, the Madera Coyotes girls soccer team was bewildered by a referee’s whistle that had a major impact in Tuesday’s match with the Sanger Apaches in Memorial Stadium.
The first questionable call came in the 25th minute of the second half when the Apaches were given a penalty kick, which led to a go-ahead goal.
The second was a non-call with about six minutes left in the match when Penelopi Leach was pushed from behind inside the goalkeeper’s box and a foul wasn’t called.
The Coyotes were left wondering what could have been after a 2-1 County/Metro Athletic Conference loss.
“It was a lot better than what we have been playing,” head coach Cameron Hill said. “We are improving. We kind of switched things up tonight, but I thought the overall effort was better. We played and fought, but were unlucky. There’s nothing you can do about that.”
Mia Alvarez scored Madera’s lone goal with a free kick 13 minutes into the second half to tie the score.
“We were back in it after Mia’s free kick,” Hill said. “We were fighting. They controlled possession in the first half. We limited their opportunities in the second half and started to get more confidence to get more chances. Then that happened and what else could go wrong.”
After an uneventful first 25 minutes of the match, the Coyotes had a chance to get on the board in the 26th minute. Alvarez sent a long kick from about 40 yards out that surprised the goalkeeper. The ball went past the goalkeeper and rolled on goal. However, the ball rolled just wide to the left.
Sanger got on the scoreboard in the fifth minute of the second half. A long shot was initially blocked by goalkeeper Jessica Diaz. Sanger was right there to knock the rebound into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.
Madera battled back and received a free kick in the 13th minute from about 20 yards out. Alvarez, a master at free kick goals, sent a shot just over the wall 10 yards in front of her and the ball went just under the cross bar to tie the score.
Alvarez had another chance in the 20th minute with a free kick from about 17 yards out on the right, just outside the goalkeeper’s box. She sent the ball to the front of the goal, but the ball was batted out by the Sanger goalkeeper.
Five minutes later, Sanger was given a penalty kick because of a soft foul inside the goalkeeper’s box and the kick went into the right corner by a diving Diaz for a 2-1 lead.
“The girl ducked down and our girl went over to win the header and they called the foul,” Hill said. “That’s usually a soft penalty. It usually isn’t called, especially with how the game was going. That wasn’t called all game.”
The Coyotes had another chance on goal with a free kick on the right just outside the goalkeeper’s box. However, the kick went across the face of the goal and rolled harmlessly out of bounds.
Madera had a prime opportunity to tie the score in the 34th minute. Anyssa Garcia lofted a ball to the front. Leach ran after the ball and just before she got to it, she was pushed from behind as the goalkeeper was coming onto the ball. Leach went down, however, no foul was called. After talking with his linesman, the referee blew his whistle for play to start while the Coyotes were talking with Hill about the rest of the game. This caused the Coyotes to quickly backtrack and defend a surprise Sanger counterattack.
“The referee didn’t say anything,” Hill said. “It was a blatent push in the back and the arm was fully extended. It wasn’t called. I don’t know what he saw. The linesman flagged, but I don’t exactly know what the issue was.”
The Coyotes couldn’t muster another chance on goal in the final five minutes for a 2-1 loss.