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Late goal leads Honkers past Yellowjackets
As Willows High coach Bud Ramirez put it, "It was matter of being in the right place at the right time."
The place was on the 18 and the time was just before the beginning of extra time, when the Lady Honkers' Marlene Sandoval stepped in front of a misplayed ball and lifted it up and over Williams keeper Jackie Gutierrez for the game's only goal in Thursday's 1-0 Honkers win at home.
The fourth-seeded Honkers (6-8-4) advanced to a Tuesday semifinal matchup in the Division III playoffs with top-seeded U-Prep (13-1) in Redding.
Williams finished the season with a 4-8-1 mark.
Neither side was able to mount much offense in the first half, with the edge in possession going to the Yellowjackets.
"I guess we had to work as a team," said Sandoval of the Lady Honkers' strategy for the second half. "We tried talking more because communicating is important."
The refocused Willows attack resulted in a number of breakaways in the second half, and Sandoval was stonewalled by Gutierrez at point-blank range in the 41st minute.
"I was adamant about getting going in the second half," Ramirez said. "We got into the game and (Williams) got a little tired."
Sandoval was not surprised by the Williams defensive miscue, saying, "They'd done it a few times and we really needed it. As long as I got the ball on my foot I just put it on goal."
Williams coach Phyllis Colson had no complaints about her team's effort. "The first half it seemed we controlled, but the game was even-keel and they both played hard. It was a tough game for both, but the score coming almost into extra time shows they battled it out."
Looking back at the season, Colson said, "They've played hard and worked through injuries and girls moving away. We worked on soccer - passing and moving the ball and they got better. This was a good group of girls."
Ramirez hoped Thursday's win might kick off a tradition of winning. "It was our first playoff win but hey, you have to start somewhere. The hardest thing for them to do is believe in themselves."
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.