Second half goal is the decider in Madera finale

Both the Madera South and Madera girls soccer teams wrapped up their respective soccer seasons, but the two teams will take different paths.

The Coyotes look to refresh and refocus for a playoff run, while the Stallions await next season in hopes of a more promising run with a core of younger player who were finally given a chance. Tuesday night’s 1-0 victory for the Coyotes in Memorial Stadium showed that not only is the County/Metro Athletic Conference competitive, but the Coyotes are starting to look stronger as the playoffs roll around.

“Madera South defended well, they got numbers behind the ball and made it tough for us to break them down,” Madera head coach Cameron Hill said.

For Madera, Itzel Rodriguez has been their leader and that continued in the match. The senior captain proved to be decisive in both halves after her link-up play with her forwards and fellow midfielders helped pin the Stallions back before their second-half goal.

Her running mate, Penelopi Leach, was arguably the most dangerous player on the pitch after an energized performance saw Madera head coach Cameron Hill praise his forward.

“I thought she was dangerous all night. She didn’t get a goal, but I thought she deserved a goal,” Hill said. “She was all over the place. She gives us energy, she’s pacey and she does all of the little things that we need.”

Madera South kept the game close and made every Madera possession tough. In a rivalry match, especially on the last night of the league, Madera South pushed for a result.

“We have improved a lot over the season and I’m proud of them,” Madera South head coach Ramon Delgadillo said. “They worked really hard and they always tried to do their best. I thought we improved and it showed. I’m just really proud of the girls this year. I think if we work really hard in the offseason and do our best to train, our team can get stronger.”

Without a reference point up front, Madera South seemed lost in the opponent final third, but in a close defensive match, the Stallions were content.

That was until Madera picked up its intensity in the second half.

The Coyotes found their goal through Leach and Rodriguez. The crafty forward made a run down the wing before whipping in a low cross into the penalty box. Rodriguez used her soft touch and strength to collect the pass, hold off her defender and fire away to beat Madera south goalkeeper Melani Rinder.

Rodriguez showed once again her reliability in front of goal, after finding the back of the net for Madera. The captain finished the regular season with 19 goals and 11 assists.

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