Bakersfield Stars win 5-3 on penalty kicks

There was a point in nearly every match this season where the Taft Sounders girls soccer team came alive to keep their unblemished record going. The Lady Sounders did it again Sunday morning only to taste their first loss of the season after the Bakersfield Stars outlasted Taft 5-3 on penalty kicks to win the title match of the Mexican League at the State Farm Sports Complex in Bakersfield.

“We gave it everything we got,” said Taft coach Abel Pedro. “I am very proud of the girls despite the loss.”

Both sides had their chances to get on the scoreboard first. However, neither side was able to break through until about 15 minutes into the first half when Bethany Fitzsimmons sped through the defense before scoring a goal to give the Lady Sounders a 1-0 advantage.

Taft’s lead held up until nine minutes after the water break when Bakersfield found the upper part of the net to score the equalizer. The Lady Stars struck again after the ball slipped past the Taft goalie’s hands and hit the crossbar. Another Bakersfield player followed up by putting the ball in the net.

The Lady Sounders had a golden opportunity to tie up the score about three minutes into the second half with a shot that hit the top of the cross bar. Bakersfield got a break on their next goal after the Bakersfield player tapped the ball over the drawn out goalie’s head for the goal.

Taft was not close to being out of it.

About halfway through the second half Fitzsimmons sent a corner kick to Ruby Lozano who headed the shot from close range into the net to trim the deficit to 3-2 moments before the start of the water break.

Taft had to get through several missed opportunities and protests by the Bakersfield side about “eligible” players in the second part of the half. They overcame those hurdles thanks to Daisy Campos’ rebound for a goal about two minutes before the end of regulation.

Bakersfield took over in the penalty kick round. The teams would trade shots on one end of the field. Bakersfield made their first two shots while Taft missed both chances with the first one hitting the top of the crossbar. Fitzsimmons, Kimmy Quinonez and Yeli Ceja each followed with goals but was not enough to catch up.

Despite losing their match of the season, Pedro liked how the experience went.

“I think its close to a perfect season,” he said. “I got to know the girls a lot better. Win or lose we won already.”