The Aptos High girls' soccer team lost to Santa Cruz High, 2-0, in Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League play on Jan. 27. (Raul Ebio/special to The Pajaronian)

APTOS—The stakes were high for the Aptos High girls’ soccer team in last week’s match against league rival Santa Cruz High. 

The Mariners needed to secure a win in order to stay alive in the race for the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League title.

However, senior forward Julia Moore and the Cardinals separated themselves further in the league standings after a 2-0 win against Aptos on Jan. 27.

“It was a big game, it was senior night, there was a big crowd, a lot of pressure,” Mariners senior defenseman Rowan Boyer said. “But at the end of the day I just wanted to play a soccer game with my friends.”

At the end of every match, regardless of the score, the players tend to reflect and grow as a group. Aptos came together to recognize the true power of being a team. 

“I know we’re all very supportive of one another,” Aptos senior forward Kelsea Ford said after their loss to Santa Cruz. “We’re all super proud of each other. I think we’re just a very connected team.” 

The Cardinals (8-0-1,5-0-0) have been dominant in league play. They are the only team to claim victories over the Mariners, sweeping the season series 2-0.

“We just gotta let this go, it’s not the end of the world,” Ford said. “We gotta put it behind us and win the rest of our games.” 

Moore opened up the scoring in the first half that gave Santa Cruz a 1-0 lead going into halftime. Senior Samantha Wenger increased their lead with two minutes left in the game. 

Despite the loss, Boyer commended their resilience to bounce back against a tough team. 

“It’s a bummer,” Boyer said. “Our team is so strong, and I know that we are gonna come out even stronger for the rest of the season.” 

Aptos coach Gina Castañeda has observed just how unified the team really is.

“The girls are an amazing team,” she said. “This is the closest I’ve ever seen them, or any team that I’ve coached.” 

Castañeda, who founded the Aztecas Youth Soccer Academy and is the team administrator for Cal North’s Olympic Development Program, said that winning and losing is part of soccer. It can also be a valuable lesson to learn. 

“As long as you did everything that you could and left everything on the field, there’s nothing else we can ask,” she said. 

Castañeda has also recognized that the team is always motivated. 

“A lot of them are self motivated and self driven,” she said. “The goal for the rest of the season is not just about winning, but about sharpening skills and learning strategies.” 

The Mariners (13-2-1, 4-2-0) play at San Lorenzo Valley (1-8-1, 0-4-1) on Tuesday at 3:30pm. 

“This is only gonna make us stronger,” Boyer said. “We’re gonna grow and come back stronger on the field.” 

Aptos 4, at Harbor 0: Jazmine Castañeda had two goals and an assist in the Mariners win against the Pirates in SCCAL play Jan. 25.

Castañeda scored in the seventh minute on a direct free kick. She also had an assist on Gwen Chapman’s goal in the 49th minute, followed up by her goal of the evening in the 64th minute on a pass from Elizabeth Randolph.

Julianne Houser scored on a pass from Angelique Nunez in the 36th minute.

Mariners goalie Kylie Nelson made two saves in the first half and backup goalie Angie Rodriguez took over duties in the second half. Rodriguez didn’t make a save.

Monte Vista Christian 1, North Salinas 0: Madison Winchester scored the winning goal for the Mustangs in their win against the Vikings in PCAL Mission Division play on Jan. 24.

MVC (5-6-2, 2-2-0) hosts Alvarez on Tuesday at 5:45pm.

Pajaro Valley 4, Seaside 1: Valeria Acosta had a goal and assist for Grizzlies in a win against the Spartans in their PCAL Cypress Division match on Jan. 27.

Yadira Gonzalez, Andrea Munoz and Izabella Brandon also scored for the Pajaro Valley (8-6-1, 4-2-0).

Goalies Andrea Munoz and Izabella Brandon split time for the Grizzlies and each made two saves.

Pajaro Valley plays at Pacific Grove (0-7-2, 0-4-1) on Tuesday at 6pm.

St. Francis 5, Greenfield 0: Senior Makena Bedolla scored three goals for the Sharks in their win against the Bruins in Pacific Coast Athletic League Santa Lucia Division action at Depot Park in Santa Cruz on Jan. 24.

Bedolla has 12 goals this season. It was the fourth clean sheet for the Sharks’ defense this season.

Dani Rojas and Monserrat Ramirez also scored for the Sharks (5-3-2, 2-1-1), who play at Santa Catalina on Tuesday at 3:30pm. 

Boys soccer

Aptos 2, at Santa Cruz 0: Joey Mackle scored twice in the second half for the Mariners in a shutout win against the Cardinals in SCCAL play Jan. 27.

Diego Tiran assisted on the first goal in the 53rd minute and Fredys Abrego assisted the second in the 69th minute.

Senior goalie Ulises Hernandez made two saves for the Mariners (9-3-2, 5-1-1), who will host San Lorenzo Valley (3-7-1, 1-6-0) on Tuesday at 7pm.

Watsonville 2, Alisal 0: Seniors Yahir Alcantar and Oscar Herrera scored goals for the Wildcatz in a win against nationally ranked Alisal in the teams’ PCAL Gabilan Division match Jan. 25. 

It was Alcantar’s first goal of the season and Herrera’s second. Goalie Edgar Angel made four saves as Watsonville recorded its seventh shutout. 

The Trojans (7-1-2, 0-1-0) entered the game ranked No. 16 in the nation and No. 3 in California by

At Watsonville 2, North Salinas 1: Lombardo Flores and Sergio Jimenez scored in the second half for the Wildcatz in a win against the Vikings in PCAL Gabilan Division Division play.

Senior goalie Edgar Angel made five saves for the Wildcatz (10-3-3, 4-1-1), who play at Salinas on Tuesday at 5:45pm.

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