When the Haybalers take the field at North Salinas this morning, they will begin the second half of their Tri-County Athletic League season. And for the beleaguered San Benito girls soccer team, that fresh start couldn’t come at a better time.

Six games into league play, the ‘Balers have been hard pressed to get any breaks. After back-to-back 1-0 losses to Salinas and Notre Dame this past week, San Benito dropped to 0-5-1 in league play.

The first two losses, to Gilroy and North Salinas before the holiday break, left the team reeling as the youthful ‘Balers quickly discovered the type of commitment and intensity required at the varsity level. But San Benito regrouped with a strong set of practices over the break that left the team thinking a turnaround in its season was just around the corner.

In their first action of the New Year, the ‘Balers showed what they are capable of by overcoming a two-goal deficit to play 10-time defending league champion Live Oak to a draw on the road.

But the team regressed by coughing up a 3-1 lead to fall 4-3 to visiting Sobrato, a defeat that left the players shaking their heads.

The ‘Balers (4-8-2) played Salinas even for much of their contest on Tuesday, but once the Cowboys scored in the 55th minute, the going got much tougher. Facing a defense that has allowed just eight goals all season, San Benito couldn’t park one in the back of the net.

Notre Dame scored within the first five minutes against the visiting ‘Balers on Thursday, but from then on, the teams battled to a draw.

“Rachel Maheu played fantastic trying to get us on the board,” said San Benito head coach Mike Schurig of his freshman forward. “We had some great opportunities but we couldn’t get it in there.”

Senior Brittany Schurig spearhead a strong San Benito defensive effort to hold down the potent Spirits’ attack.

With freshman goalie Emily Key sidelined for the remainder of the season following an injury in practice, the ‘Balers, who also had three players out sick against Notre Dame, were forced to adjust their line-up again. Senior Ashley Perreira, who began the season in the net only to switch to sweeper, had to move back into goal.

“I feel bad for the girls because they’re trying hard to make things happen,” said Schurig, the San Benito coach. “It’s frustrating because we’re much better than our record.”

With the first round of TCAL play in the books, the ‘Balers can put their challenging start in the past beginning today and strive for a strong finish.

“We have six games ahead of us,” said Schurig, “so we’re going to play ’em hard and shoot to get some wins.”

The San Benito and North Salinas varsity game kicks off at 10:00am today and will be followed by the junior varsity contest at noon.

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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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