Coyotes ready for playoff chance
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera Coyotes goalkeeper Arianna Ornelas keeps the ball away from a Sanger attacker during Thursday’s match.
After the Madera Coyotes girls soccer team ended their 2021 County/Metro Athletic Conference season with a 3-1 loss to the Sanger Apaches, all eyes turn to the upcoming CIF Division II playoffs.
Angie Martinez scored the Coyotes’ lone goal at Memorial Stadium on Thursday to cap off a turbulent and unusual season. From injuries to key players like Natalia Mata, to having their season postponed for three months, the Coyotes stand tall with a playoff berth on the horizon.
“I think the team is excited to be heading into the playoffs despite having a few setbacks. We lost our last game, but played well in the second half against a Sanger team who is the No. 2 seed,” Coyotes head coach Cameron Hill said.
Sheyla Posas provided the lone assist on the day for Martinez in a second half effort that gave both the players and coaching staff optimism for the playoffs.
Madera comes into their first-round playoff match as the eighth seed against No. 9 El Diamante.
The winner of the match will face off with top seeded Hanford in the quarterfinals
Despite not having one of their best players and, arguably, one of the top players in the CMAC in Mata, the Coyotes still look to rebound and beat their opponents.
“We’re looking for senior captain and four-year starter Mariah Zapata to step up and be the player we know she can be. She’s in a different position than Mata, but she’s a player who can make a huge difference,” Hill said. “Atiana Pinon has played well in the forward position too since the injury so she will be counted on to score.”
Luckily, for Hill and his staff, the Coyotes have multiple players they can plug in to offset some of the creativity the team is losing without Mata, but putting it together is another story.
Madera faces a strong team despite rankings. Like many know within the game, the team that is focused and hungrier on the pitch is more likely to walk away with a good result and that bodes well for the Coyotes.
Having faced stern competition, not only in the CMAC but in the preseason, the Coyotes are battle tested and eager to get the ball rolling. In a single-elimination playoff bracket, anything can happen.
“We expect a good seed,” Hill said. “They had one lopsided result but other than that they have been in every match this season.”
And the hard work continues for the coaching staff as well. With a playoff match around the corner, Hill and his staff are doing their best to prepare the Coyotes for what’s to come.
“It’s hard to get good scouting reports, especially in a year with restrictions on travel so you have to use your coaching network to try to find information,” Hill said. “Part of the fun is trying to find video, but it’s limited and for this match and we weren’t fortunate enough to find it. From what I’ve gathered though is they play direct and will try to counter attack so we have to be ready to deal with balls over the top of our defense.”