“We didn’t even know just before the season started if we were even going to have a team this year,” said Pioneers Coach Kordo Doski, who had just four players on his bench Thursday for a game against the Cougars. “We do have a few good players, but a lot of these girls have never even played soccer before. We are having to teach them the fundamentals of the game.”
“We are the same way. We have girls who have never played before,” Cougars Coach Danny Castanaza said.
“We have a very small school, so a lot of the players are involved in other things and they have those obligations as well. And what makes it tough is that we don’t even have a field to practice on. We have our practices on the blacktop.”
As thin as they both might have been, the two programs met for the first time this season in Thursday’s league matchup. The Pioneers were able to get off to a quick start, scoring all of the contest’s goals in the first half, to earn a 4-0 victory.
“It’s nice to be out here playing and to be able to have a team this year,” said Providence’s Rose Avakian, who scored two goals. “I’ve been playing soccer since I was little and if we wouldn’t have had a team this year it would have been really bad. But we’re all out here and we’re trying our best.”
From the opening whistle of the first half, the Pioneers (2-3, 2-1 in league) dictated the tempo of the match. Providence enjoyed its share of scoring opportunities early on and its defense didn’t allow the Cougars (1-5, 1-4) to generate many chances of their own.
While keeping the ball primarily in the Glendale Adventist half in the opening minutes, the Pioneers finally cashed in on an opportunity in the ninth minute. Ally Casella got control of the ball on the right side 40 yards from the Glendale Adventist goal with two defenders blanketing her. She was able to flick the ball over the defenders, ran down the ball and blasted a shot for a goal past goalkeeper Jennifer Matsuda.
“What was kind of nice about Ally scoring that goal is that is something we talked about specifically before the game,” Doski said. “Sometimes she’s a little scared to take on and challenge players, but she did just great on that play.”
Just six minutes later the Pioneers made it 2-0 on Avakian’s first goal, as she was given a nice pass on the play by Gaby Sarmiento.
Avakian would strike again in the 22nd minute, rocketing a shot from 20 yards out to give the Pioneers a 3-0 cushion.
Providence capped the scoring in the 30th minute when Kaelin Ayap found the back of the net on a hard shot from 30 yards out.
The Cougars’ best scoring chance in the first half came in the 11th minute when Ester Menjivar took a shot from the right side. However, the ball sailed wide left.
Glendale Adventist did create more scoring opportunities in the second half, but wasn’t able to capitalize on any.
“We always seem to play better in the second half of games,” Castanaza said. “I thought we moved the ball around more in the second half and we were more organized.
“We just seem to come out scared a lot in the first half. I don’t know what it is? I have even tried to internally motivate them in the beginning so they won’t be like that. But it’s been tough.”
Sydnee Nicholas had a hard shot in the 52nd minute and Menjivar had one in the 63rd, but both were stopped by Providence goalkeeper Isabella Morris.