All last year, the one thing Isabella Vasquez wanted to do was play with her high school girls’ soccer team: Dos Pueblos High.
A dedicated goalkeeper, Vasquez last season played strictly on a local club team.
This year, however, in her senior campaign, Vasquez was able to return to play for DP and she has been thankful for the opportunity.
“I missed it so much and this is just the most fun part about the game, to be honest. I can enjoy it with everybody at school and I just love this school so much,” Vasquez said.
Wednesday night at Scott O’Leary Stadium, it was the Chargers who were thankful to have Vasquez in goal.
In the 68th minute, Santa Barbara High’s Kasia Wolf fired a shot, which would have found the right corner of the net, had it not been for the outstretched right arm of Vasquez, which poked it away out of bounds.
That save, along with her other six on the night, proved to be just enough for Dos Pueblos to secure a 0-0 tie against its crosstown rival and, more importantly, clinch a share of the Channel League title, co-championing it with Lompoc High.
Lompoc (11-1-6, 6-1-3) defeated Santa Ynez 5-1 Wednesday to earn a share of the title alongside DP (8-4-5, 6-1-3).
“It’s a little bit of a letdown. They are our rivals, and they did take that as a win so it kind of stings a little bit, but we are still the champs and I’m not gonna keep my head down about that. It’s obviously a little disappointing but we will be fine,” Vasquez said.
When asked specifically about her mindset during the save in the 68th minute, Vasquez said “We are not losing and I am getting a shutout.
“I can’t let them down and that goes through my head every game because I will do anything for these girls and I want to win.”
Despite being disappointed with the fact it did not beat Santa Barbara once this season, drawing both times, a fellow Dos Pueblos senior saw the bright side.
“This is still super exciting,” senior co-captain Reyna Zuzunaga said.
“Last year was our first year to ever win the league title so to not ever win before and then win and then win again, even with the seniors we lost last year, just speaks to the talent we have here at DP.”
Zuzunaga played exceptionally for the Chargers, as she was one of many players on the field trying to find a winning score.
In the 72nd minute, the senior co-captain passed it out to her fellow senior co-captain, Kamila Picket.
The speedy midfielder was able to collect the pass near the end line and then serve it in, finding Barbara Gonzalez. The senior forward then put a shot on frame, but Santa Barbara’s Lia Rodriguez was right there to make a save, blocking the ball.
The ball then rolled back to the middle of the six-yard box, where Zuzunaga rushed up and tried to put a leg on it.
Instead, a Santa Barbara defender beat her to the ball, clearing it away and then accidentally hitting Zuzunaga’s foot, injuring her.
She had to be carted off but after the game said she should be fine to play next week.
“It was just kind of a scramble and then I got beat up a little bit,” Zuzunaga chuckled.
“But, I think it’s really important for players to put it all out there because it could cost you the game. If you make that effort to get there, it could be the difference.”
That sequence of events, however, was the best look DP had all game. The Chargers were creating opportunities throughout the match but were either a hair too short or just a bit too quick or slow to the ball to put a foot on it.
Despite sharing the title with Lompoc, Dos Pueblos will have the Channel League’s No. 1 seed since it won the head to head battle against Lompoc, 1-0-1.
The CIF brackets will be released Saturday.
“I’m really excited. Last year was our first year making it to the playoffs so we had no experience in what to expect. This year, now we know what’s going to be coming our way and I think we can go pretty deep as long as the girls believe in what they can do,” DP coach Seth Asuncion said.
With the draw on Wednesday, Santa Barbara remained in third place, which still secures its spot in the postseason.
The Dons (8-7-6, 5-3-2) appear to be playing their best soccer as of late, especially on the defensive end.
With a strong backline comprised of senior co-captain Sophia Garofalo, Liberty Tank, Lizzie Goss, Brianna Lopez, and other solid subs, the Dons gave up only 15 total goals in 21 games this season, only four of which were surrendered during Channel League games.
“We are playing our best soccer and we’re going to continue to fine-tune some things while keeping the girls healthy and focused, that will be the best recipe for success into our postseason. I personally am so excited to be part of this extremely talented group of young ladies there is so much potential if we are all on board,” Santa Barbara coach Bridget Thomson said.
Also, the Dons were more than happy to play the spoiler to DP’s outright Channel League championship with the strong performance.
“We knew to go into this game that we had our work cut out for us and, I can’t emphasize this enough, the girls did the work, especially in our midfield and backline. I (also) really felt like we also created more chances then DP, so to me it feels like a win. And preventing the league win feels good too, I suppose,” Thomson said.