Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Maria Leal jumps into the arms of Itzel Rodriguez (10) after Rodriguez scored the game-winning goal Thursday.
With a goal with three minutes left in the match, the Madera South Stallions girls soccer team picked up an important 2-1 win over the Sanger Apaches to keep pace in the County/Metro Athletic Conference.
The Apaches scored the first goal of the game, but the Stallions scored twice in the second half to record the victory Thursday in Memorial Stadium. Gigi Gutierrez and Itzel Rodriguez scored for the Stallions.
“We rearranged our formation to be more offensive,” head coach Ramon Delgadillo said. “Once they scored, I changed my line-up so we were attacking.”
The win keeps the Stallions on pace with the Bullard-Fresno Knights for the CMAC title and also gives the team confidence in defending its back-to-back Div. II championship.
“It was really important to get a win so we can have a run at CMAC,” Delgadillo said. “It also motivates them to believe they can make a run for a valley championship."
After an uneventful first 20 minutes, the Stallions had the first good chance on goal midway through the first half. Gutierrez battled with a Sanger defender and appeared to have taken the ball inside the goalkeeper’s box before she was knocked to the ground, drawing a foul.
However, the center referee ruled Gutierrez was outside the box and awarded the Stallions a free kick just outside the goalkeeper’s box. Rodriguez took the shot and it was tipped over by the keeper. The ensuing corner kick went into the side of the net.
“Everything started with disciplining some players,” Delgadillo said. “They are barely catching up. Another factor was our warm-up. They were no focusing the way we are supposed to."
Sanger had an opportunity just before the end of the half with a corner kick. The kick went to the front and was headed on goal. A Madera South defender deflected the ball and Stallions goalkeeper Mikayla Martinez made the save.
The Apaches broke the scoreless tie two minutes into the second half. An Apaches attacker broke through the Madera South defense on the right and shot by Martinez inside the far left post for the 1-0 lead.
Madera South battled back seven minutes later. Sabrina Ibrahim controlled the ball at midfield and fed up the field to Gutierrez. With a defender on her Gutierrez controlled the ball and fired into the right corner of the goal to tie the score.
Midway through the second half, Ibrahim crossed a ball to the front of the goal. The ball was knocked out by Sanger, but Rachel Ramirez came in and shot on goal, but it went wide right.
Rodriguez had a free kick from about 25 yards out in the 24th minute, but the shot was caught.
In the 37th minute, Sanger was called for a hand ball and appeared to be in the goalkeeper’s box at the time. However, it was ruled outside the box and Rodriguez set up for a free kick right outside the goalkeeper’s box on the right.
Rodriguez sent a shot over the Sanger wall into the upper left corner of the goal for the game-winner.
The Stallions held the Apaches without a shot over the final three minutes to record the victory.