The Pajaro Valley High girls’ soccer team had a chance to separate themselves further from Soledad High in the league standings going into last week’s showdown.
And after 80 minutes of competing on a wet semi-muddy grass pitch, the Grizzlies found themselves moving just slightly ahead following a 1-1 draw to the Aztecs on Feb. 1.
It wasn’t the outcome senior striker Marla Licea was hoping for, yet it was still an amazing feat for their season. Her first-half goal helped Pajaro Valley inch closer to clinching at least a share of the Pacific Coast Athletic League Mission Division crown.
“Playing against this team, it’s always been a battle,” Licea said. “No matter how hard we tried, it would always be a struggle. But I think today it really paid off, everything we’ve been working on.”
With the tie, the Grizzlies are currently second in the league standings with a 7-1-3 record, just slightly ahead of the Aztecs at 7-2-1 with one game remaining in the regular season.
Not only does Pajaro Valley have a chance to clinch at least a share of the Mission Division title, but there’s also a Central Coast Section playoff berth at stake.
About 15 minutes into the second half, Pajaro Valley coach Kristian Flores was content with walking away with a tie, especially after seeing a tale of two halves.
“First half, I think we came out and we really wanted it. We were really pushing, just attacking, creating chances,” he said. “In the second half, I think we had a little bit of a letdown and [Soledad] really came out obviously trying to get that tying goal.”
Licea—who typically plays at the right winger position—saw some action up front as a striker. She caught a break in the first half when fellow teammate Leilani Vazquez found Licea on a pass and put it away for the score, giving the Grizzlies a 1-0 lead going into halftime.
“Everything happened so fast. It was really unexpected. I really felt [a defender] coming behind me but I’m glad I took the shot,” Licea said.
Flores mentioned how they’ve used Licea as a utility player and plugged her into some vacant holes on the pitch, making her a weapon no matter where she steps on the field.
“Licea was there, she was cool as a cucumber and put it in the back of the net, which is probably one of the most important goals of the season,” he said. “It’s great for her because not only is she a captain and she’s a senior, but she’s a really good person.”
Coming out of the break, the Aztecs returned to the pitch a lot more composed and it didn’t take long for them to square things up. Giselle Zepeda, a junior, tied the score at 1-all on a blazing shot that found the back of the net.
“If it happened to us, I know that we would want to make a comeback,” Licea said. “It was expected, but we kept our heads up and we did whatever we could.”
Pajaro Valley still has an anticipated meeting against Monte Vista Christian, which is currently 8-2 in league play. The match is scheduled for Friday at 5:45pm.
The Mustangs (9-5-3) have a chance to move up in the Mission Division standings Wednesday night against Pacific Collegiate School at Santa Cruz High School at 5:45pm.
“We’ve already been able to beat Monte Vista once, we kind of already know what they got,” Flores said. “It’s gonna make a great occasion for everybody to go watch and a little preview hopefully for CCS.”
Aptos 4, Soquel 0: The Mariners captured back-to-back Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League crowns following a shutout win over the Knights on Feb. 1.
Goals were scored by Ella Shoemaker, Anahi Macias, Scarlett Stateler and Isabella Hartnett.
Hartnett and Macias were each credited with one assist, along with Kaitlyn Murphy and Ava Churchill.
Goalkeeper Alessandra Zuniga recorded a pair of saves for Aptos, which is looking to close out the regular season with an unblemished record in league play.
Next up, the Mariners (14-3-1, 8-0) play at Santa Cruz on Feb. 6 and will host Harbor in the finale on Feb. 8. Both games are slated for a 7pm kickoff.
Aptos 2, Soquel 0: Carlos Gutierrez and Nami Banks each scored one goal for the Mariners in a shutout win over the Knights in SCCAL action on Feb. 2.
Luve Granstrom and Kaleb Plascencia were each credited with one assist, while goalkeeper Noah Curran made three saves for Aptos (11-3-1, 5-1), which will host Santa Cruz in league play on Wednesday at 7pm.
North Salinas 63, Monte Vista Christian 61: Senior guard Angel Martinez had 14 points for the Mustangs in a loss to the Vikings in a PCAL Mission Division action on Feb. 2.
Fellow teammates Bryce Brogan contributed 13 points and Jack Ryan added 11 points for MVC (16-5, 9-2), which plays at Rancho San Juan (13-7, 10-1) in a battle for first place on Tuesday at 7pm.
Pacific Grove 81, St. Francis 37: Sam Braun led the Sharks with 19 points in a loss to the Breakers in PCAL Mission Division action on Feb 1.
Fellow teammate Joseph Rose added 9 points, followed by Mario Zermeno with 6 points on a pair of 3-pointers. St. Francis drops to 2-19 overall and is currently 1-10 in league play.
Next up, the Sharks will host North Monterey County on Wednesday at 7pm.
Aptos 46, Harbor 17: Seniors Laurel Southall and Guin Lines finished with 7 and 5 points respectively to help pace the Mariners to a crushing win against the Pirates in SCCAL action on Feb. 2.
The second half was led by junior Berkeley Ashby who recorded 12 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals, while freshman guard Gabby Wickham continued her stellar season by contributing 11 points and 3 steals.
Other contributors were seniors Libby Reynolds (4 points and 7 rebounds), Samantha Wickham (3 points), Sophia Pursley (2 points), Grace Townsend (2 points) and Angelina Arreola who ran the point guard position for much of the first half.
Aptos (16-7, 8-2) earned the No. 2 seed in the SCCAL Tournament. The tournament will tip off Tuesday starting with No. 5 Soquel at No. 4 San Lorenzo Valley at 5pm, and No. 6 Harbor at No. 3 Scotts Valley at 5:30pm.
The Mariners will play the highest seed remaining at Scotts Valley High on Thursday at 3:30pm.
St. Francis 69, King City 31: Freshman guard Maya Calfee goes off for 37 points in a smashing victory over the Mustangs in PCAL Cypress Division action on Jan. 31.
Calfee also finished with six rebounds, five assists, seven steals and one block, while fellow teammate senior Aaliysah Gomez finished with 14 points for St. Francis, which improved to 10-0 in league play.
The Sharks (17-2) will host Gonzales in league play on Tuesday at 7pm.
St. Francis 49, Pajaro Valley 23: Senior guard Aaliysah Gomez recorded a team-best 17 points for the Sharks in a blowout win over the Grizzlies in PCAL Cypress Division action on Jan. 29. Freshman guard Maya Calfee added 15 points for St. Francis.
Monterey 59, Watsonville 52: Stephanie Martinez finished with a career-high 19 points to go along with 4 rebounds and 3 steals for the Wildcatz in a loss to the Toreadores in PCAL Gabilan Division action on Jan. 31.
Isabella Love contributed 10 points and 5 rebounds, while Fernanda Lazo added 9 points and 7 rebounds for Watsonville.
The ‘Catz (9-12, 4-7) will play at Alisal on Tuesday at 7pm.
Salinas 48, Watsonville 43: Fernanda Lazo finished with 15 points for the Wildcatz in a loss to the Cowboys in PCAL Gabilan Division action on Jan. 29.
After a rough first quarter, the ‘Catz weren’t able to respond after trailing 9-0 in the opening stanza.
Fellow teammates Isabella Love had 12 points, and Iliana Garcia contributed six for Watsonville.
Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to submit scores and highlights to [email protected]. Follow sports editor Juan Reyes (@jmreyes831) on Twitter for scores and news updates.