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Prep girls soccer: Canyon stays within reach

Draw leaves Cowboys with shot at first-place on Friday

Posted: January 30, 2013 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 30, 2013 1:55 a.m.
Canyon’s Hanna Halstead (6) and West Ranch's Ashley Goodin (11) meet at the goal at Canyon on Tuesday. Canyon’s Hanna Halstead (6) and West Ranch's Ashley Goodin (11) meet at the goal at Canyon on Tuesday.
<p>Canyon’s Hanna Halstead (6) and West Ranch's Ashley Goodin (11) meet at the goal at Canyon on Tuesday.</p>

For the second time this season, the Canyon Cowboys and West Ranch Wildcats girls soccer teams proved evenly matched.

In a fast-paced, back-and-forth contest on Tuesday night at Canyon High School, the two teams battled to a 1-1 draw.

Canyon, which entered the game on a three-game winning streak that propelled it into second place in the Foothill League, got on the board first on a goal by Mari Kneisel in the 34th minute.

Kneisel, who was asked to play a more attacking style with forwards Vanessa Quintero and Brooke Moore out, has now scored in three straight games for the Cowboys (8-6-4 overall, 4-1-2 Foothill League).

“I saw an opportunity and took it,” Kneisel said of her goal, in which she dribbled around goalkeeper Logan Byam-Taylor and put the ball in the back of the net. “Every chance you get you have to finish. You don’t get many opportunities.”

Because of the injuries, Canyon played the game with just one substitute but was still able to keep up with a speedy West Ranch team.

“They’ve got a lot of heart and character to only have one sub and play as hard as they did,” said West Ranch head coach Jared White of the Cowboys. “I have a lot of respect for them.”

The Wildcats (4-6-6, 0-3-4), who have struggled to score goals this season, equalized in the second half off a defensive miscue by the Cowboys.

Taylor Ayers found the ball in the box in the 51st minute and beat Canyon goalkeeper Meghan Kennedy to tie the score.

For a West Ranch team that has yet to win a Foothill League game this season, earning a point for the second straight game (West Ranch tied Hart 1-1 on Friday) was a welcome result.

“If you’re looking for a silver lining, to score in two straight games is huge,” White said. “We’ve changed our mentality from, ‘Let’s make playoffs,’ to ‘Let’s just go and ruin everyone else’s season.’ Anyone who thought we were going to roll over is sorely mistaken.”

The Wildcats next challenge comes against Saugus on Friday at West Ranch.

Canyon readies for its biggest game of the season to date, as the Cowboys host first-place Valencia, whom they trail by one game, at 5 p.m.

“We’re not out of it,” said first-year Canyon head coach Derek Rusk. “It’s going to make for an interesting game on Friday.”


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