Girls' Soccer: Eagles catch fire

SANTA ANA — Estancia High senior girls' soccer player Marlene Calderon had two chances to score in the waning minutes Thursday afternoon.

One was a shot that went just wide right. One was a low shot that the Santa Ana Valley goalie was able to scoop up.

"Don't remind me," Calderon said after the game. "I was so mad. I panicked. I was really excited. In my head, I scored, but obviously ... not in real life."

Calderon had nothing at all to be embarrassed about. In real life, she did more than her share on defense. Everywhere No. 16 in the white and blue jersey went, she followed.

Calderon played a large role in shutting down standout Santa Ana Valley senior striker Jessica Reyes. Her teammates took care of the offense, exploding for five second-half goals in Estancia's 6-0 nonleague victory at Centennial Regional Park.

Sophomore midfielder Alba Barrios had a hat trick, helping the Eagles (1-1-2) earn their first win of the season.

"We came out with a lot of energy this game," Barrios said. "I think this was a great way to play as a team, get comfortable with each other. Obviously, we get confidence with this win. Maybe we can keep it up."

Reyes had been on fire to start the season. She led Orange County with 13 goals scored in Valley's first five games.

Estancia Coach Jessica Perry said that during warmups, she decided to put size on Reyes. On Estancia's team, the 5-foot-6 Calderon counts as size.

"I think Marlene did a great job against her," Perry said. "[Reyes] is talented, but we found a way to keep her quiet today."

The Eagles jumped ahead of Valley (4-2) early. In the 11th minute, Barrios took a through ball from fellow sophomore Alondra Guzman and found the back of the net.

They still led just 1-0 at halftime. But the second half was a different story. Junior Haley Flores gave Estancia an insurance goal after senior Natalie Cortez was taken down just outside of the box. Flores' free kick whistled past a crowd of players and deflected off the Valley goalie and into the net.

The Eagles scored again in the 59th minute as a pair of freshmen hooked up. Defender Samantha Falasco played the ball ahead to Ashley McHugh, who scored her first varsity goal into the top part of the net.

Barrios scored again, then fed junior Julissa Arroyo for another goal in the box. Barrios got the first hat trick of her Estancia career near the end, taking a pass from senior Ashley Cervantes and converting on a breakaway.

Estancia had scored just a single goal in its three previous games. But defensively the Eagles have also been very solid, allowing just two goals — one on a penalty kick — in four games.

"We're really getting back into our groove, the way that we want to be playing the rest of the year," Perry said. "We do have some other tough games ahead of us, and we know that this [result] won't be the case all the time, but it's a confidence-builder. For someone like Alba who's always going to work hard, to get rewarded today, hopefully that just propels her to have that caliber of a season the rest of the year."

Santa Ana Valley Coach Yobany Martinez gave credit to the Eagles, who held Reyes scoreless for the first time this season.

"[Estancia] was super-solid," Martinez said. "They neutralized my two forwards, and that's not an easy thing to do because they run fast. Obviously, the 13 goals that Jessica has says a lot, but their defense was just on. They pushed us out of their territory."

The Eagles are young this year. The last line of defense is sophomore goalie Caitlin Leahy, who made five saves Thursday, and freshman Brandi White plays defense in the back as well.

They also have a difficult schedule before league play begins, which Perry said is by design. Estancia has won two Orange Coast League titles in Perry's first four years at the helm.

"It's just the way I do it, to be ready for league," Perry said. "We won't go into league with the best record, but we'll go into league having played a lot tougher teams than the rest of our opponents."

Estancia is currently without two starters, junior midfielder Cassandra Garcia (knee) and senior defender Shantel Romero (ankle). Perry said Garcia will have an MRI next week, while Romero could return as soon as Monday.

Twitter: @mjszabo

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World