After splitting the season series, the grudge match between the Taft 7-12 girls soccer team and Salem Academy/Western Christian came at a time when everything was at stake for both teams: the league playoffs.
The Lady Tigers traveled to Salem Academy Tuesday, Oct. 29, to play the host Crusaders in the first round of the Special District 2 playoffs. Back on Sept. 12 Taft defeated the Crusaders 2-1 at home, but then lost to them on the road, 3-2, on Oct. 8. With just a single goal separating the two teams in the first two matchups, Tuesday’s game had the makings of an intense battle.
The two teams were deadlocked at 0-0 early on before sophomore Saige Ulrich delivered a timely pass to junior Avery Nightengale, who converted the goal to give Taft a 1-0 lead going into halftime.
The goal seemed to give Taft the confidence they needed both on offense and defense, as head coach Joey Arce-Torres noted that his team played more aggressive and passed exceptionally well throughout the game.
In the second half, Nightengale played the role of facilitator and found senior teammate Sammy Halferty for a goal, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead. With a two goal advantage, Taft remained in complete control and easily turned away each attack by the Crusaders.
“Defensive was solid, no viable attacks by SA’s offense,” Arce-Torres said. “Chloe Peterson made life miserable for their top scorer. She had a great match, along with Jaelyn Olmeda and Saige Ulrich.”
Taft eventfully ran out the clock, earning a 2-0 victory and advancing on in the league playoffs.
“So proud of the kids, they played a full 80 minutes and kept the intensity up all night,” Arce-Torres said.
The win puts the Lady Tigers one win away this Saturday from the state playoffs. This post will be updated with Saturday’s game details once they are available.