Taft College pulls out a 4-2 victory

UKIAH – Taft College scored three unanswered first half goals here Saturday and cruised to an upset victory over Mendocino College in the first round of the state women’s soccer playoffs.

The 4-2 win put the Cougars into a second round match with No. 2 seed Sierra College on Tuesday in Rocklin.  Check taftmidwaydriller.com for the results.

Entering the playoffs the Cougars were seeded 10th and undefeated Mendocino seventh.

After spotting the Eagles an early goal in the seventh minute Cougar standout Joanna Espinoza responded with back-to-back unassisted goals, the second one on a penalty kick, to give TC the lead.

Head coach Myisha Cutrona said her team was ready to play despite the long trip.

“We got to the field a couple of hours before the game started so our girls could get some touches on the ball and get comfortable with the field,” she said.  “I think they might have come out a little overconfident so I felt right away we would win the game.”

She wasn’t worried that the Eagles scored a quick goal.

“We came back strong after they scored their goal.”

Espinoza’s goals, her 25th and 26th of the season, came in the 25th and 34th minutes – the second one on a penalty kick following a handball call.

In the 42nd minute, freshman midfielder/forward Cristina Salazar took a pass from Selina Chacon and drilled home a shot off the post that gave the Cougars a 3-1 lead at the break.

The Cougars then essentially sealed the victory when Leilani Ponce, a sophomore forward from Taft High, knocked in an unassisted goal in the 42nd minute off a corner kick that was headed by a Mendocino defender.

“She made a flying tackle kick that went into the back of the net,” Cutrona said.

Mendocino scored a goal with two minutes left to finish the scoring.

Cougar goalkeeper Marissa Alcala, a freshman from Frontier High in Bakersfield, had a stellar game, saving seven of Mendocino’s nine shots on goal.

The victory pushed the Cougars’ season record to 14-4-2 while Mendocino finished 16-1-4.

“We played hard,” Cutrona said.  “It was a nice victory and gives us some confidence going into the game against Sierra.”