Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Members of the Coyotes girls soccer team engulf Mariah Zapata with hugs after she scored the game-tying goal in Wednesday’s victory. Zapata also scored the game-winner in overtime.
Thanks to the heroics of Mariah Zapata, the Madera Coyotes girls soccer team celebrated a 2-1 overtime victory over the Madera South Stallions to open the County/Metro Athletic Conference season.
Zapata’s free kick goal in the 16th minute of the second half tied the match and her second free kick goal in the third minute of overtime sealed the victory Tuesday at Madera South.
“This is definitely a great way to start league,” Zapata said. “It’s not just a regular game. They are our rivals. It gives us that much more motivation to continue on the rest of league like this.”
Although his team had chances, Madera head coach Cameron Hill said they just couldn’t capitalize. However, he says, it’s also great to have a weapon like Zapata to score on free kicks.
“It’s another way to score, especially in a match like this where it’s hard to score,” Hill said. “You can score on a straight free kick or a corner kick. We haven’t had many set piece goals this year so it was nice to get some.”
Although the Stallions had chances to score, Hill’s defense stiffened and didn’t allow a goal in the final 60 minutes of the match.
“Our defense matched what they needed to do,” Hill said. “They know the girls, too, because it’s a rivalry. They know them and know what to expect. There are no surprises except for No. 4 (Aliah Avila) on their team who can do some things.”
Madera South head coach Ramon Delgadillo was disappointed on how his team responded after the Coyotes tied the score in the second half.
“Unfortunately, after their first goal when they tied the game, for some reason, we stopped playing,” he said. “After that, it didn’t matter how many movements we did, they didn’t want to play. We put the pressure on them and we could tell the difference. We were playing really good against them in the first half. In the second half, we started doing the same thing really good. Then, we were waiting. We weren’t putting any pressure, we weren’t connecting on our passes. We adjusted as much as we could, but every sub we made, it didn’t matter.”
Madera had the first chance three minutes into the match on a free kick from about 30 yards out. Zapata sent the kick in, but defender Jameela Sanchez stopped the shot
A minute later, Jazmin Pinon got a breakaway for the Coyotes on the left, but shot just wide of the goal.
Off a free kick that was headed forward, Madera's Hailey Saucedo, on the right, had an open net, but shot wide right. Off another free kick in the 12th minute, Pionon settled the ball down and shot on goal, but it was high.
The Coyotes kept up the pressure. Pinon crossed a pass to the middle, but Madera South goalkeeper Kayla Gutierrez batted the ball out, but Zapata came in for the shot and popped the ball over Gutierrez’s head. However, Anahi Casillas covered for her keeper and cleared the ball out before it reached the empty net.
Madera South started to put the pressure on in the second part of the first half. In the 26th minute, Avila sent a pass to Sanchez in the middle, but her 25-yard shot went wide right. From there, Andrea Vasquez intercepted a Madera pass and sent the ball to Autumn Moreno, who shot wide.
Three minutes later, off a Casillas corner kick, Vasquez headed the ball back to Moreno, whose cross back to the middle was stopped by Madera goalkeeper Yesenia Moreno.
Madera responded with a chance in the 33rd minute. Sheyla Posas got the ball at 25 yards out in the middle and shot on goal, but Gutierrez came up with the save.
Three minutes later, Madera South’s Brianna Macial dribbled by two Madera defenders and crossed the ball to Mariah Camacho. Her shot was deflected out of bounds by Madera.
Madera South drew a foul in the 38th minute and, after the whistle, the referee issued a yellow card to Moreno, forcing her off the pitch and forcing a cold back-up keeper into the match. The Stallions took advantage. Casillas, with a long free kick, lofted a ball high. The ball bounced in front of the Madera goalkeeper and over her head. Vasquez came in and headed the ball into the back of the net to send the Stallions to the half with a 1-0 lead.
“The early goal was a good motivation,” Delgadillo said. “They were pumped up, but they didn’t keep it to the end.
Madera South came close to extending its lead in the 13th minute of the second half. Moreno got the ball away from a group of defenders and shot on goal, but it was deflected out of bounds. On the ensuing corner kick, Vasquez’s header went out of bounds.
Two minutes later, Madera put the pressure on the Madera South defense. Off a pass from a free kick, Penelopi Leach headed the ball to herself and got in front of Madera South defenders. However, her shot was deflected out of bounds. On the ensuing corner kick, Jazzel Ruiz got a head on the ball, but it was blocked out by Madera South’s Valerie Rocha.
Madera finally got on the scoreboard in the 16th minute. After a Madera South yellow card, Zapata stepped up for a kick just outside the goalkeeper’s box on the left. She calmly stepped into it and hit the ball into the upper right corner to tie the score.
“I’m trying to look for the shot,” Zapata said. “I’m in the range so I’m just trying to take some time and place it where it needs to be placed. I was getting inside my own head. This one, I took my time and put it where it needed to go.”
Madera had a chance to take the lead in regulation. Off a Zapata corner kick, Ruiz got a shot on goal from the right, but Madera South’s Jessica Sanchez blocked the ball out to force overtime.
Madera South had a prime opportunity to take the lead in overtime in the first minute. Avila dribbled the ball to the end line and sent a cross. Three different Stallions missed on shot attempts before Madera cleared the ball out.
Madera took advantage of its next opportunity in the third minute. In almost the same spot as her first goal, Zapata sent another shot on goal. Her laser shot went off the inside of the far post and into the back of the net for the 2-1 lead.
Madera South only had one more quality chance on goal for the remaining 17 minutes and Moreno made the easy save to secure the victory.