What do expectation and expectoration have in common? For the Agoura High girls’ soccer team, at least during the playoffs, one led to another.
During the final moments before each playoff match, Agoura players would gather and talk at brain-numbing volume about a plan of attack or, if you will, their goals.
“We call them ‘affirmations,’ ” senior goalkeeper Tricia Arledge said. “We all talk in the present. It’s never, ‘We have to do this,” or ‘We need to score this goal.’ It’s always, ‘ After we score this goal,’ or ‘ When we do this or when we do that.’ ”
But the present tense led to tense behavior. Pregame regimen, Step Two: Watch your step.
“Then we get in the circle, touch shoes, and spit into the middle of the circle,” Arledge said, laughing. “It’s just something we did this year before the playoffs because we were too edgy, too stressed.”
It’s easy to believe that Agoura would salivate at the prospect of another playoff game. After all, the Chargers had won three consecutive Southern Section titles entering Saturday’s championship match at Gahr High in Cerritos. This season, however, Agoura was moved to the 3-A Division after winning three consecutive titles at the 2-A level.
Yet perhaps the manifested nervousness was indeed a good sign, because it’s a safe bet that players from Anaheim Canyon were suffering from collective cottonmouth at the thought of facing Arledge and Agoura’s defense.
Weird rituals or not, Agoura defeated Canyon, 2-0, as Arledge recorded her 20th shutout of the season for the 26-0 Chargers. Zeroes have become commonplace in Arledge’s three-year varsity career. As a sophomore, she posted 17 shutouts as Agoura posted a 21-1-3 record. Last season, she added 19 shutouts and the Chargers finished 25-0-3.
The shutout of Canyon was her 56th. The Chargers are 72-1-6 in her tenure and have not lost since the first game of her sophomore year, when Agoura dropped a 2-1 decision to Royal. Saturday’s victory was the team’s 41st in a row.
And what will Arledge remember most about her career? Three titles in her three years? The shutouts? Doubtful. It apparently got lonely back there sometimes.
“No one ever got to see me play, to see if I’m any good,” she said. “It got to be pretty boring. . . . They used to have to take me out of goal and let me play striker so I could get more involved.”
Arledge’s involvement in Saturday’s win was more than she could have hoped for. It more than made up for a season of slumber in the nets. For the first time this season, Agoura was outshot (14-8).
It was eerily reminiscent of something this season that she had seen 25 times before--at the other end of the field.
“They were definitely the best team we’ve played,” she said. “They played a lot like us. The way they ran their offenses, their defenses, was like we do it. They had a lot of team quickness and bigness. They were really aggro. “
Aggro, for the sake of clarity, does not stand for agronomy or agoraphobia. Is is slang for “aggressive.”
Channeled aggression hasn’t hurt Arledge, who first impressed Coach Dave Godwin during tryouts in the fall of 1986. Arledge took over for Diahn Matzner, an All-Southern Section selection at goalkeeper as a junior and senior. Although Agoura lost its first game of the 1986-87 season, it has not lost since in 78 matches, and Arledge has become a godsend for Godwin. That is, he has noticed her play even if others have not.
“She hasn’t received the notoriety that she should have because there haven’t been that many shots on goal,” Godwin said. “But she has worked as hard as any player we have. You can teach a player many things, but you cannot instill desire, and she has that.”
Of course, had Arledge known that boredom and anonymity were what lay ahead, she might not have volunteered to play goalkeeper as a sophomore. He sold her on the ABCs of the position with an offbeat approach,
“I tried to be honest,” Godwin said, recalling team tryouts three years ago. “I told her that she might end up with a broken nose, but that she could have a lot of fun, too.”