Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Jazzei Ruiz tries to dribble between two defenders during Tuesday’s loss to the Panthers.
Despite posting a shutout in the second half, the Madera Coyotes girls soccer team lost 3-0 against San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno.
It was a physical game which brought minor injuries to players on both sides. The physical battle also led to several calls and non-calls from the referees, which frustrated the supporters from both teams at Memorial Stadium on Tuesday.
Still, the Panthers overcame the challenges with a strong start in the first half.
San Joaquin Memorial opened the scoring in the seventh minute on a goal by Logan Nidy.
Madera’s Mariah Zapata tried to tie the game with a shot from 20 yards out in the 20th minute, but her kick went just wide.
Nidy added her second goal in the 12th minute when she out-hustled goalkeeper Breanna Salazar to the ball and launched a shot into the back of the net. Nidy nearly added a second goal a minute later, but her shot hit the post and stayed out.
Madera head coach Cameron Hill said his team had some miscommunication problems and they didn’t read the play quick enough on the goals they gave up.
“Their forward is really good. She runs off the ball really well,” Hill said. “We just got caught flat-footed.”
Madera’s Jazzell Ruiz fired a shot in front of the goal in the 21st minute, which was saved by Panthers’ goalkeeper Brenn Vallin. The Coyotes also earned a corner kick in the 34th minute, but they failed to get a shot on target.
With seconds left in the first half, Josephine Nicholson scored off a rebound to make it 3-0 at the break.
“The effort was there in the first half. We just didn’t execute,” Hill said.
The Coyotes dominated possession in the first 10 minutes of the second half, but they still struggled to get shots on target. Madera also earned a corner in the 51st minute, but the Panthers’ goalkeeper made a tip-save to prevent a header attempt.
Both teams continued to engage in a physical tussel throughout the second half while the crowd constantly heckled the referees. Still, the game ended without any more goals for either team.
Hill said a physical game late in the season especially takes a toll on the team.
“The season is winding down. People are more tired, muscles are a little bit more weaker,” he said. “When you’re more tired, you don’t realize you might be a step late. You come in on a tackle and you’re late. It happens as the season wears on. More injuries just keep occuring.”