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Wildcats girls soccer uses magic to win wild card

Prep soccer: West Ranch wins its wild-card match

Posted: February 19, 2014 10:44 p.m.
Updated: February 19, 2014 10:44 p.m.

West Ranch's Allie Theiss, right, collides with a San Marcos defender on Wednesday at West Ranch High School in the wild-card round of the CIF-SS Div. II playoffs.

 

Even if no one can quite explain how it happened, no one on the West Ranch girls soccer team is going to complain about the Wildcats’ first postseason victory in program history.

After a shot by West Ranch’s Noelle Weber was saved by San Marcos goalkeeper Hannah Harrah, the Wildcats’

Taylor Ayers found the rebound on the right side of the 18-yard box and sent the ball into the back of the net for a 1-0 CIF-Southern Section Division II wild-card victory over visiting San Marcos of Santa Barbara on Wednesday.

“I was thinking goal,” Ayers said. “Rip it and hope it goes in.”

Ayers ripped the shot, and as she tells it, the ball ricocheted off a San Marcos defender, went high up in the air, and landed over Harrah’s head in the back of the net with 22 minutes remaining in the second half.

West Ranch head coach Jared White saw it a little different, with the ball ricocheting back off Ayers before going up in the air and into the back of the net.

Others still had a different explanation of what they had just seen.

Either way, though, West Ranch (12-9-4 overall) is moving on because of it.

“Luck was on our side with that goal,” White said. “We will take it.”

The victory came in just West Ranch’s second playoff appearance in program history, with the Wildcats losing 2-1 to Huntington Beach in a Division I wild-card game in 2012.

“This sets the bar at a new standard,” White said. “It means that we have finally taken the next step toward building a consistent, competitive program.”

In order to earn its first victory beyond the wild card round, though, West Ranch will have to get through second-seeded Chino Hills, which won the Serra League and enters the postseason 23-2, Friday on the road at 3 p.m.

“That (performance) is going to work for this game but against Chino Hills you’re going to have to score a couple,” said White, of a West Ranch team that has been led primarily by its defense all season. “We trust our defense to give us a chance, but you have to score goals.”

On Wednesday, the Wildcats had plenty of chances, turning in 11 shots with seven on goal.

But Harrah consistently rebuffed the opportunities for San Marcos (7-6-6), showing off a plethora of different skills in stopping the shots.

“She was one of the best keepers we’ve seen all year. She had two or three kick saves I would have expected to go in,” White said.

But with each save, West Ranch learned a little bit more about the girl keeping them from their goal.

“She was frustrating,” Ayers said. “But I knew we could beat her. She showed weak points so I knew we were going to score. She came out too far sometimes.”

One of those times was when Ayers’ shot sailed high to the top-right of goal.

And because of it, West Ranch is moving on to the first round.

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