WATSONVILLE–The Pajaro Valley High girls’ soccer team extended its magical season thanks to a little bit of help from Lady Luck.
The Grizzlies also got a spectacular performance from Katherine Burke, who made the biggest save with time winding down in Tuesday night’s Pacific Coast Athletic League play-in match at Watsonville High.
The freshman goalkeeper stopped a bullet from close range in front of a crowded box that secured a 2-1 win over Soledad High.
“For some of it, I couldn’t see the ball so I was just moving where the people were going,” she said. “I was trying to stay in front of the ball as much as I could…I was able to stay in front and get that.”
Burke’s save also helped Pajaro Valley clinch a Central Coast Section girls soccer playoff berth for the first time in the program’s history.
“It was a really important game for us since our school’s never done it before,” she said. “We’re making history as we go. It was really good for us to work hard and play good with each other to make it this far.”
Pajaro Valley coach Cesar Padilla said prior to the season they set a goal to have a winning year.
“The girls are motivated,” he said.
Padilla led the Grizzlies to their first league title in school history in just his first year as the skipper.
Jasmin Castillo said winning the league title was a big step forward for them because it was one of the objectives prior to the season.
“Now it’s even bigger because we’re making history at our school,” she said. “Just making it to CCS is a big thing for us so I’m really proud of the girls.”
Padilla said they’ve become a much closer team. He mentioned the leaders such as team captains Castillo and Gali Carrillo are stepping in at big moments.
“This is kind of crazy for us because we’ve never made it this far,” Castillo said. “I’m very excited and proud of the team.”
A perfect example was when both team captains went to Jackie Garcia before attempting the penalty kick.
“They talked to her to relax her, calm her down and [Garcia] was able to score it,” Padilla said.
Garcia scored the game’s first goal in the 29th minute after Castillo was fouled in the penalty area.
Soledad missed on a golden opportunity to tie the game before heading into halftime but a pair of wide open shots sailed slightly past the posts.
Aztecs’ coach Maria Zamora believes they won the possession game in the second half and they continued to create chances on numerous breakaways in Pajaro Valley’s zone.
“We didn’t score on our chances but it was a good match overall, “ Zamora said. “We’re just a little down because we were expecting a win.”
Zamora said the most frustrating part about the loss was some of her key players were taken out of the game for various reasons.
“It was hard finishing the plays because of that and moving a lot of players around is something we were not expecting from the beginning,” Zamora said.
Castillo took advantage of some of the mistakes Soledad made. She extended the Grizzlies’ lead to 2-0 by knocking one into the back of the net in the 62nd.
Soledad senior Monique Acencio added more salt to the wound when she was called for a yellow card, giving Pajaro Valley another scoring chance.
However, the tide quickly shifted in the 80th minute when Larissa Rodriguez cut the deficit into half, giving the Grizzlies a small scare.
But the defense pulled through in the end and cleared any kind of danger that was headed toward Burke’s way.
“This is a really important game for us to go to the CCS,” Burke said. “If we made it it’s great but if we didn’t at the end of the season we were really proud and we finished strong. But today was a good game.”
The No. 6 Grizzlies play at No. 3 Salinas High in the quarterfinal round of the CCS D-IV playoffs tonight at 5 p.m.
Editor’s Note: This article will be published in the Feb. 21 edition of The Pajaronian.