It had been a long time since the San Marcos High girls soccer team had won a Channel League match.
Last season, the Royals went 0-9-2 against the current rendition of the Channel League which includes Santa Ynez, Lompoc, and Cabrillo.
This season, San Marcos was hoping for a different result in its first league game, but instead got more of the same after a 3-2 loss at Lompoc.
“We really needed a pick me up,” junior midfielder Paige Ingram said.
Well, the Royals captain gave her team a huge pick me up on Saturday.
In the 51st minute, Ingram shot the ball from about 50 yards out and somehow found the right corner of the net, delivering San Marcos a 1-0 victory over its crosstown rival Santa Barbara High at Warkentin Stadium.
“There were just a lot of emotions going into that. After last season, having no victories in league and then after our first loss to Lompoc we needed something,” Ingram said.
“Santa Barbara is our rival so this game had a lot in it for us and we just really needed a goal and that victory.”
For Ingram, that shot, though extremely difficult, was not the first time she hit it. The junior said she was confident in her ability to hit from that distance and once she saw the keeper off her line, she decided to give it a shot.
Her familiarity with Santa Barbara’s keeper also gave her the confidence to take the shot.
“I saw that she was towards the front post and off her line a little bit more so I tried to get that shot to the back corner because I figured it’d be harder,” Ingram said.
It certainly was a difficult shot, one that Santa Barbara (4-4-4, 1-0-1) goalkeeper Lia Rodriguez was stunned it went in by her reaction moments after it happened.
“Sometimes you have to applaud a great shot and a great play. Our keepers had an amazing game, that shot should not be a reflection on their performance,” Santa Barbara coach Bridget Thomson said.
One person who was not stunned by the shot was Royals (1-3-3, 1-1-0) coach Jennifer Sotelo.
“It’s no surprise. She is my captain and I tell her what to do so that she can tell others what to do and she always does it. She is my captain, my leader and none of it came as of a surprise to me,” Sotelo said.
Before Saturday, the Royals had not won a Channel League game in 15 tries. That did not seep into Sotelo’s mind at all before the match.
“Last year is last year and I have a brand new team. One that is willing and hungry and a rivalry game is a different ball game. I just wanted them to play with heart. This is a rivalry game and not everyone gets to be in these games so play with heart and we could beat them,” Sotelo said.
Despite not having much success in the last two seasons, San Marcos came out the more aggressive team and kept that pressure throughout.
Defensively, the Royals backline was fantastic in their press of Santa Barbara’s Sofia Capelletti.
“We know how she (Sofia) plays so we kept tight on her and we stayed compact on defense and went wide on offense and the girls did what they needed to do and I am so proud of them,” Sotelo said.
“They were all working together really well and even with one step they were there and they just challenged us a lot,” Capelletti said.
Offensively, the Royals themselves did not have many looks but after going up 1-0, they did a great job of keeping possession and putting Santa Barbara in bad situations.
Overall, the Dons did not have many opportunities, getting off only about six shots with only two being on target.
After Ingram’s goal, Santa Barbara tried to get up the field quickly but did not do a good job of connecting on many passes.
This season, a lot of the Dons victories have come because of their backline, who also had a great game Saturday, but trailing 1-0 is not an ideal position for a team that struggles to find the back of the net.
In 12 games this season, Santa Barbara has eight goals, five of which came against Fillmore.
“It’s about taking more chances for us. We are still a little bit timid but when we have opportunities I want us to take those chances,” Thomson said.
Though Saturday’s loss was tough, ultimately, Thomson understands that it is still very early in league play and there is still a lot of soccer to be played.
“Losing a game 1-0 is a pretty good indicator that we are pretty compatible as far as competition goes so I am excited for the next time we meet them and really it is just back to the drawing board for us. The difference in this game was one shot so now we learn from this and go out and try to pick up some more wins,” Thomson said.