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Photo by Chelsea Buchanan
The Lady Aztecs' Daisy Daniel chases down a loose ball in Wednesday's game against Granite Hills at Barstow High School.

Cougars run past Lady Aztecs

BARSTOW • Taking on a team undefeated in league play would have been quite enough without having to deal with injuries, as well.

That’s the position in which the Barstow girls soccer team found itself on Wednesday. The Lady Aztecs hosted Granite Hills and saw two more players go down, joining two others who were hurt previously, as the Cougars won, 9-0, at Barstow High School.

With two starters already sidelined and players already out of position to compensate, the Aztecs couldn’t afford to lose anyone else. Unfortunately, the action was stopped for a few minutes in both the first and second halves, as Barstow players fell to the ground battling with the Cougars, and didn’t get up.

“We went from having two players on the bench to none,” said Lady Aztecs head coach Brenda Banks. “We played 11-out the whole second half. There were no subs; some girls played the whole game with no relief.”

Just a few minutes into the match, before any goals had been scored, Bianka Greigo went down and had to be helped off the field. The same happened in the second half, as shortly in, Korissa Aviles was lost to injury, liquidating the Barstow bench.

There were already two players sitting out, including starting goalie Empriss Gardener. Ivana Espinoza spent most of the first half in net, and Autumn Hazelett the second.

“We’re playing a few girls out of position,” said coach Banks. “Autumn has never played goalie before, but you do what you have to do for the team when you’re a captain.”

The Cougars scored four times in the first 40 minutes. Two of those tallies came from the speedy Michelle Alozie, who would score twice more in the second.

“They’re fast and they have a lot of depth,” said Banks. “They were able to cycle fresh legs, and we had no bench.”

The Aztecs got off few shots in the first, but showed a bit more offense in the second. Under a minute in, a Noemi Martinez shot was caught by the Cougars’ keeper, while Lexyss Aviles also had her offering caught, and Daisy Daniel shot just wide.

Despite the Granite goals, the Aztecs displayed some nice defense. Alysia Sanchez and Jasmine Ceballos both did well in the back. Sanchez at one point stopped a sure goal by making a block of a rebound shot off a Hazelett save, and Ceballos was in the thick of the action trying to put the brakes on the Cougars’ momentum.

“Jasmine is a forward playing defense, and she did a phenomenal job,” said Banks.

As well as two more goals from Alozie, Granite got two second-half goals from Katie Saavedra, another quick-footed player whose second tally came after a run of about 40 yards.

The win gives the Cougars records of 7-4-3 overall, 4-0 in the Desert Sky League, with the Aztecs dropping to 2-9-1, 2-2-1.

It would certainly help Barstow to get some players healthy, but Wednesday didn’t help matters any. While Aviles is day-to-day and may be ready for the next game, Griego’s injury was more serious, and may sideline her for the rest of the season.

“We never relented, we played hard from end to end, even playing out of position,” said Banks. “I can’t take anything away from them, they’re a good team, but having no subs didn’t help us. We’re playing with heart, but there’s only so much you can do with a straight 11.”

And there’s no relief for the weary, as the Lady Aztecs have just one day off before returning to the field. Barstow hosts Burroughs on Friday, and Victor Valley next Wednesday, for 3 p.m. starts.

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