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Playing through hardship
Shorthanded Lady Aztecs tough it out
BARSTOW • The season has barely begun, and the Barstow girls soccer team is already shifting things around to deal with some unexpected circumstances.
“Of our starting 11 players, five are out right now,” said Lady Aztecs head coach Brenda Banks of the injuries and other setbacks her team has endured. “We had five freshmen out there today, that tells you our depth.”
The Aztecs played their second game of the season on Tuesday, a non-leaguer against University Prep out of Victorville, and the Jaguars took a 4-0 win, at Barstow High School.
These adverse occurances have shaken up a team that was still coming together in the preseason. Many of coach Banks’ plans have been put on hold until she has a full roster to work with. In the meantime, during Tuesday’s game and for at least a few more weeks, several of the players that are available are playing out of their natural positions.
The Aztecs took the first shot against the Jaguars, as with only about a minute lapsed in the first half, Nayeli Zapata’s hard kick was caught. Shortly after, however, Prep got control and sent in a shot that Barstow keeper Empriss Gardener got a hand on, but the ball squirted from her grasp, landing right near the foot of Marlyn Espino, who chipped it over the line.
The Jaguars would score once more in the first half. With about eight minutes left, Emma Page dribbled in and placed a shot just under the bar over Gardener’s head. As the clock ticked down, the Barstow goalie prevented a third score, facing Prep’s Espino one-on-one on a breakaway and making the save.
The Aztecs took their chances in the first 40 minutes, as Miranda Peralta, Autumn Hazelett and Ivana Espinoza all had shots caught.
The Jaguars made it a 3-0 game at 16 minutes into the second, with Margarita Espino’s shot hitting the side post and deflecting in. The game’s final goal came with 15 minutes left, a high shot by Rachel Hunsicker that was just out of Gardener’s reach.
It was after that fourth tally that the home team had its best run of the match. Right off the face-off, Lexyss Ceballos dribbled in for a shot that went just wide, followed by Hazelett hitting the side of the net and Peralta taking a hard shot that was caught. Noemi Martinez capped off the attack by showing some nice footwork, dribbling around a defender to get open and loft a high shot that banged off the crossbar.
The Aztecs finished with 12 shots, with 11 saves for Gardener.
While the Barstow offense is still finding its rhythm, the defense is coming together.
“Melissa (Cardenas) played a phenomenal game, and Lexyss was real aggressive. Daisy (Daniel), a freshman, rotated between three positions today and did well at all of them, she was just great,” said coach Banks. “And Autumn did a good job in the middle. She’s never played midfield before, but because of all the players we have out, she filled in where she was needed.”
The loss brought the Lady Aztecs to 0-2, with the Jaguars improving to 1-1.
“We’re a young team and we’ve got a lot of heart, we just need to play with more aggression,” said Banks. “We’ll have multiple players out of position through December, but we’ll keep pushing; no defeat, no surrender.”
Barstow will host Apple Valley next Tuesday and be at Silverado next Thursday.