Both teams in action Tuesday

Girls soccer began on Tuesday last week in the North County, and the second game of the season featured a matchup between the Atascadero Greyhounds and Paso Robles Bearcats on Apr. 15. It was the second game of the season for both teams that entered the matchup 0-1 after dropping their opening, and it was the Bearcats that left with the 3-1 victory at home in War Memorial Stadium.

The soccer season will look different from years past and far more condensed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This spring, the girl’s soccer season will only last ten total games, all of which will be league competitions between Apr. 13 and May 13.

“We didn’t have any preseason games,” PRHS head coach Dillon Simoulis told the Paso Robles Press.” We tried some intrasquad, but we don’t have 22 on the team. The JV stepped up, and we got to scrimmage against them and figured things out, but we are really figuring it out on the fly, and they are doing a great job of adjusting.”

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

As fans are slowly allowed into the stadiums this spring, the game between the two rivals brought back some of the familiar sounds coming from the stands as parents and family members shouted instructions and congratulations all over the field. While many Atascadero versus Paso Robles games are seen as a great rivalry, these two teams have many girls who have grown up playing club together for various teams in the area, making for a fun and interesting matchup between the two teams.

Atascadero forward Noella Breytenbach get position on her defender to head the ball to one of her teammates

The fans didn’t have to wait long for action on Thursday as the Bearcats jumped out to a 1-0 lead early thanks to a goal from sophomore Lucy Pritchard, who came down the sideline on a long ball delivered to the wing and was able to cut into the box and finish with the ball in the back of the net. Less than 10 minutes into the game and the Bearcats were up 1-0.

For the next 30 minutes, the game stayed mainly in the middle of the field as both teams tried to establish and impose their style of play on their opponent. Both teams had chances to score but just couldn’t connect in the final third, which is expected in only the second game of the season with minimal practice.

With around 10 minutes to go in the first half, the Greyhounds answered the Bearcats with a goal on their own when Bella Valentine drew a penalty kick in the box. After the dust settled, Valentine took the PK herself and slotted it right into the bottom right corner of the net, and the game was tied.

For the next nine minutes before halftime, the Bearcats took over the game. Paso Robles earned two corner kicks that were both saved by Atascadero goalkeeper MaKaylie Howell. However, with less than a minute to go before the halftime buzzer, Paso Robles’ Ava Berezay was finally able to break through and powered one through the Greyhound keeper. The Bearcats would go into halftime up 2-1 with all the moment in the stadium on their side.

A Bearcat defender elevates above everyone else to win the header.

Paso Robles kept the pressure on in the second half and added one more goal thanks to the right foot of freshman Audree Lerma and the final would end 3-1.

“We are a pretty balanced team this year. We have two freshmen, about four seniors, and the majority of them are sophomores and juniors. So, we have a lot of new faces, and they are really coming together; there is a lot of good chemistry,” Stamoulis said. “We are happy to be out here; we are super pumped to play our ten league games.”

The two rivals will play once more this season on May 4; this time, the Greyhounds will have the home-field advantage.

The girls soccer season will continue this Tuesday. Paso Robles will make a trip over the grade to face the favorites in the Mountain League, San Luis Obispo. Atascadero will look to pick up their first win of the season in Santa Maria when they play the Righetti Warriors, who are also 0-2 on the season.