The Rams took 17 shots
It was expected to be one of those epic struggles.
Taft College and Fresno City College were tied at the top of the Central Valley Conference women’s soccer race and meeting in the regular season finale with the title at stake.
The teams had tied 1-1 when they played in Fresno on Oct. 29,and although defending champion Fresno was ranked much higher than Taft, the Cougars were hosting and looking to replace the Rams as CVC champion.
It was close in the beginning with TC scoring first, then Fresno getting two goals to take the lead and then the Cougars tying it.
At that point, the more physical Rams took control and never relented, scoring three more goals – the last two on essentially uncontested shots.
Twice in the second half Ram attackers faked out Cougar defenders away from the goal and went one-on-one with goalkeeper Marissa Alcala who was powerless to stop the open shots.
Alcala had her busiest day of the season scrambling against Fresno’s relentless offensive push.
The Rams took 17 shots compared to Taft’s eight. Fresno had 13 shots on goal – five hitting their mark. Alcala recorded eight saves.
Her counterpart, Tara Togami, had an easier day. The Cougars managed five shots on goal. Two got past the Fresno keeper.
The first came from freshman midfielder/forward Cristina Salazar, who took a pass from Joanna Espinoza for a score in the 18th minute.
Fresno countered with goals from Cristyn Chavez and Dallana Ortiz to take a 2-1 lead at the half.
TC tied it in the 48th minute on a goal by Celia Rangel, who outmaneuvered a Fresno defender in the right corner and took a shot from a tough angle. It barely cleared the post, skipped off Togami and dribbled across the line.
After that it was all Fresno.
The Rams finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in the state and No. 1 in northern California in the power rankings. The Cougars finished 11th in NorCal and 26th in the state.
Fresno finished 5-0-1 in the conference and 17-1-3 overall while the Cougars are 4-4-4 and 13-4-2.