Soledad High School girls soccer
Precious Aguilera (#9) clears the ball out of the goal area as the Soledad defense fought to keep Silver Creek from scoring on them. (Michael Ramirez)

SOLEDAD — Soledad High School Aztec girls’ soccer team has qualified for Wednesday’s Central Coast Section (CCS) semifinals with a win last Saturday in the quarterfinal round.

Soledad (#3 seed) beat #6 seed Silver Creek Raiders 3-2 in penalty kicks.

Playing in a steady rain, the Lady Aztecs played tough defensively and received timely goals by Jennifer Troncoso and Myrin Amilpa to send the game into extra periods.

Troncoso scored the first goal of the game for Soledad at the 15-minute mark to tie the game at 1-1 after the Raiders had jumped out to a 1-0 advantage in the first few minutes of game.

Soledad High School girls soccer
Soledad High goalie Mariana Leon prepares to pounce on a penalty shot during PK’s at Saturday’s game against Silver Creek. Leon made two saves in the penalty shot period. (Michael Ramirez)

“We made a defensive error on a counter and ended up out of position to allow the first goal,” said Soledad head coach Victor Garcia. “With about 13 minutes left in the second half, Myrin Amilpa scored a goal to give us a 2-1 lead. A couple of minutes later, Silver Creek had the ball in the penalty area and we cleared the ball out. As my players were moving up field, an official stopped play and went to talk to the other officials. We weren’t sure what they discussed, but the refs called for a penalty shot as he said a Silver Creek player had been knocked down in the penalty area. Silver Creek made the penalty shot and tied the game at 2-2.”

In the first extra 10-minute period, Amilpa had a breakaway opportunity, but with the Raider defense catching up, the Soledad striker missed on her shot attempt. The teams played to a stalemate in the second extra 10-minute period and the teams had a break to choose players to attempt penalty kicks.

The teams each had five players attempt the penalty shots, with Alyssa Rico, Giselle Zepeda, Myrin Amilpa, Mara Sanchez and Precious Aguilera kicking for Soledad.

The teams were tied at 2-2 in penalty kicks with three misses and two scored by each side.

A sixth player went up to attempt a shot for Silver Creek but missed to set up a shot attempt by Soledad senior midfielder Troncoso. The shot hit nothing but net to set off a celebration around Troncoso by her teammates and coaches.

“We had not played a game that finished in penalty kicks this season,” Garcia said. “I feel that the rain and field conditions made in tough for everyone to get their footing. Our goalie Mariana Leon made two stops on the penalty kicks that helped us get the win. She played well the whole game along with Maria Sanchez at center back and Josselyn Coria at center mid. Our offense is always strong and we have to be ready to finish plays, as the next team we play (Willow Glen) is good at attacking and can finish plays. We know that Willow Glen played to penalties to beat Notre Dame Belmont and feel we can play with them.”

Soledad High School girls soccer
Soledad High’s Jennifer Troncoso (#11) keeps the ball away from a Silver Creek defender on Saturday in the CCS quarterfinals. Troncoso scored the winning shot in penalty kicks to send the Lady Aztecs to the semi-finals. (Michael Ramirez)

Troncoso was up to the task to take the winning shot and to guide her younger teammates in a pressure-packed situation and contributed with the early goal and game-winning penalty kick.

“I knew I had to do it for the team, especially as this is my senior year and I just wanted to keep going in CCS,” Troncoso said. “Mentally, I just stay prepared for the unexpected and keep my teammates motivated.”

Lady Aztec goalie Mariana Leon was a key performer during the game, in the extra game time and in the penalty kicks.

“It was a lot of pressure going into the final penalty shots,” Leon said. “I just calmed myself down, got myself to relax, and I know what I am capable of doing.”

Willow Glen, the #2 seed in Division IV, will host the Lady Aztecs at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21, in San Jose.

The other two teams left in Division IV are #4 Gunn at #1 Everett Alvarez, and those two teams also square off Wednesday night in Salinas.

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