Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Natalia Mata (24) receives congratulations from Itzel Rodriguez (10) after Rodriguez sent Mata the pass to score Madera’s second gal in a 2-0 victory Thursday.
The Madera Coyotes got a goal in the first and second halves for a 2-0 County/Metro Athletic Convereence-opening victory over the Sanger Apaches in memorial Stadium.
The Coyotes got goals from Penelopi Leach and Natalia Mata to secure the victory without head coach Cameron Hill, who was at Olympic Development Program training.
“Anytime a league opponent comes to your house and you can get a ‘W,’ it’s good for the program and good to move forward, especially for the first game of league,” assistant coach Jonathan Vivian said.
Coyotes’ leading scorer Itzel Rodriguez had her four-match goal-scoring streak snapped, but she assisted on both goals in the win.
“She can create things that gives us opportunities to score goals,” Vivian said. “She plays hard every night and puts ourselves in position to succeed, which our other girls succeed. We have some speed on this team that is not really tapped. With Itzel in the midfield, she is able to spray deep balls. We were able to get some run throughs. It really helps to have a playmaker in the middle of the field that can get it going.”
Goalkeeper Lilly Ascencio, along with defenders Valerie Rivera and Noemi Cabello kept the Apaches off the scoreboard.
“As a coach, you can’t teach speed,” Vivian said. “We changed our formation a little and it helped shore up some of our defensive stuff. Valerie Rivera and Noemi Cabello in the middle have a lot of speed so they are able run a lot of things down. It was nice to see.”
In the first half, the Coyotes almost got on the scoreboard when Clarissa Gill had a point blank shot on goal, but it was stopped by the goalkeeper.
Midway through the first half, the Coyotes got on the scoreboard. Off a corner kick, Rodriguez sent the ball to the front of the goal. Leach came in and knocked the ball into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.
Five minutes later, Ascencio kept the Apaches off the scoreboard when she came out to catch a free kick despite getting run into by a Sanger attacker. Five minutes later, Ascencio batted a high ball out of danger to keep the shutout.
Eight minutes into the second half, the Coyotes added an insurance goal. Rodriguez got the ball in the middle and sent the ball past an oncoming keeper to the left. Mata came in to one-touch the ball into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Leach had another chance on goal seven minutes later. She got the ball on the left, cut back to the clear and sent a shot on goal, but it was stopped by the goalkeeper.
In the 28th minute, Catherine Hernandez sent a free kick from 35 yards out on goal. Destiny Barajas headed the ball on goal, but it was caught for the final chance for either team in the match.