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Adrianna Ramirez leads Victoria girls' soccer to first Daily Pilot Cup win with shutout over Whittier

Amanda Glass and Ivy Harwick are coaching a Costa Mesa Victoria Elementary girls’ soccer team for the third successive Daily Pilot Cup, and their third- and fourth-grade team won its opener Thursday afternoon behind a pair of Adrianna Ramirez goals.

It was a huge moment for the Voyagers, who defeated Costa Mesa Whittier 2-0 in a Silver Division clash at Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex.

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“We were trying to remember [if we had won a game in the tournament],” Glass said. “I don't think we won a game [the first two years], so this is our first [win], or second, maybe.”

Either way, it was an impressive and deserved triumph, one that the Victoria teachers and their young charges thoroughly enjoyed.

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“This is super huge. We're so excited to win the first game,” Harwick said. “All the girls are amped. They're like, 'We're hyper! We want to do it again!'”

Ramirez tallied just before halftime and again 11 minutes into the second half, hit a post and came close a few more times as the Voyagers claimed nine points with the win, pulling even in Group C with Corona del Mar Harbor View (1-1-0), a point behind Newport (1-0-0), Victoria's opponent on Friday at 5:30 p.m.

Only the group winner will advance to Sunday's semifinals, and that will likely be determined in the final group games on Saturday morning. Victoria's chemistry could make the difference.

“We have some girls who I think this is their first time playing soccer,” Glass said. “It's cool to see those girls who have been playing a long time teach them the ways.”

Victoria Elementary's Aisleen Avalos, center, competes against Whittier in a girls' third- and fourth-grade Silver Division pool-play match at the Daily Pilot Cup on Thursday at Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa.
Victoria Elementary's Aisleen Avalos, center, competes against Whittier in a girls' third- and fourth-grade Silver Division pool-play match at the Daily Pilot Cup on Thursday at Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa. (Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Even the players see it.

“When I was playing, I was realizing that my team kept on helping each other, and that's what I like to see, my friends helping each other out,” said fourth-grader Aisleen Avalos, who spent some time on the backline and nearly netted a goal with about six minutes to go. “I was really proud we were able to do that.”

Ramirez, a left-footed fourth-grader who has been playing since she was in first grade, was the difference in a game that had huge momentum shifts when the teams, both with large rosters, made mass substitutions. Her speed and prowess on the left side challenged Whittier's defense, and she scored on a breakaway in the 25th minute and after beating two defenders in the 36th minute.

“She's a confident girl,” Harwick said. “Very confident.”

Ramirez said she was “very happy, 'cause I haven't scored a goal for a little long now, and I really was happy to make two goals. I got open and I was saying, 'Pass,' and then they saw me, and when they got in trouble, they passed to me. And all the defenders were on the other people, so I had to chance to go at the goal and shoot.”

Whittier coach Brian Lopez said his defenders found Ramirez “difficult” to stop.

“They were scared and everything,” he said, “but we talked to them [and told them] not worry about [going up against her]. We'll see how we do on Saturday.”

Isla Valencia and Aliana Christie also had good chances for Victoria, and second-half goalkeeper Noemi Negrete made two big stops to keep the shutout, which was worth another standings point for the Voyagers.

Whittier (0-2-0), which has just two points, threatened through Andrea Arellano, Kimberly Leiva, Steph Leyva and Stephanie Martinez, but Negrete, first-half goalkeeper Haillie Enciso and their defense stepped up in dangerous situations.

“Our defense was trying really hard,” Avalos said. “I played defense for a little bit, and I could tell they were really trying.”

Victoria Elementary goalkeeper Haillie Enciso blocks a shot by Whittier in a girls’ third- and fourth-grade Silver Division pool-play match at the Daily Pilot Cup on Thursday at Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa.
Victoria Elementary goalkeeper Haillie Enciso blocks a shot by Whittier in a girls’ third- and fourth-grade Silver Division pool-play match at the Daily Pilot Cup on Thursday at Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa. (Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

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