Baler defender Lorena Villagomez (left) wards off the Acorns' Katie Renteria.

After 40 minutes of being pushed around by host Live Oak, the
Hollister High girls soccer team decided to push back.
MORGAN HILL – After 40 minutes of being pushed around by host Live Oak, the Hollister High girls soccer team decided to push back.

The Balers responded with a 2-2 tie to open the Tri-County Athletic League season, snapping a losing streak against the Acorns that goes back unofficially to the mid-90’s.

“Live Oak has been the dynasty in girls soccer team forever,” said Baler head coach Michael Schurig. “To come out of this with a tie means we can play at their level. We won the second half. I was proud of that. We learned a lot about how they play and we’ll play them again.”

“Hollister outhustled us in the second half,” said Acorns coach Tony Vasquez, whose club is 2-6-2 overall. “They outhustled us to every loose ball. We played well in the first half. We’ve just had trouble scoring. That’s been our problem this year.”

The Balers (7-3-2) couldn’t get much going in the first 20 minutes as the match was played in their own defensive end for much of the first half. Acorns forward Katie Renteria, in particular, was a thorn in the right side of the field and created major havoc for the Balers. Renteria made a break past two Baler defenders which resulted in a Live Oak throw-in. The ball ended up in front of the Balers’ goal and talented Michelle McDonald left-footed a shot past Balers goalie Mary Von Urff at the 25th minute to put the Acorns up 1-0.

Physical match

The match was physical throughout as back-to-back yellow cards were assessed on two Acorn players late in the first half. Live Oak had also done a good job of physically marking the Balers’ leading scorer, Jennifer Vandenberg.

“She’s a good player,” said Vasquez of Vandenberg. “But we didn’t do anything special. We play a four-flat defense and whoever is there marks up.”

The second half found the Balers, who were outshot 8-4 in the first half, more aggressive offensively. Vandenberg made a run on the left flank and was dragged down and awarded a direct kick. Vandenberg’s ensuing effort at goal on the direct was saved nicely by Acorns goalie Ashley Garcia, who made a last-second dive to her right.

The ball caromed off Garcia in front of the net and Hollister’s Jenny Maheu left-footed it up off the top post and it rolled in at the 47th minute.

It was the first goal the Balers have scored against the Acorns in three years and the 23rd of the season for Maheu.

The match, which was played in its entirety under a steady downfall, picked up the pace. Tempers picked up, as well. The Balers Michelle Sanchez, getting some time at the midfield, mixed it up with an Acorns player and the pair engaged in a decent stare-down.

At approximately the 60th minute, Vanessa Gowett put one ahead for Vandenberg, who was near the midfield stripe. The ball sailed over the final Acorns defender and Vandenberg, an absolute wonder with the ball, was one-on-one with Garcia. Garcia came out, Vandenberg hesitated, waited for Garcia to commit herself, then rolled a shot by Garcia and the Balers had their first-ever lead over Live Oak 2-1.

The Acorns, behind an ornery crowd, didn’t quit. They kept the pressure on as the Balers defense, which opted to not adjust with the one goal cushion, had trouble clearing the ball out. In the 70th minute, McDonald’s low corner kick was lost in front of the net and teammate Stephanie Curtis one-touched the tying goal past Von Urff.

Though the Balers were disappointed not to hold onto the lead, they were pleased to play their best soccer vs. a quality opponent in recent memory.

“We showed all the people who didn’t have faith in us that we can play,” said Maheu. “Live Oak was throwing football and rugby into the match. We’re looking forward to playing them again.”

Two Baler players complained about scratches across their backs at game’s end. Five yellow cards were assessed total. One might want to mark down Jan. 28. That’s when the two teams meet again – with, perhaps, the inside track to the T-CAL title at stake.

JV score: Live Oak 2, Hollister 0.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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