Snap 4-game losing streak

PASO ROBLES — Friday night featured the final game between the Paso Robles and Atascadero girls soccer teams and it was the Bearcats who came out on top 1-0, avenging their 1-0 overtime loss from two weeks ago. 

Both the Greyhounds and the Bearcats entered this game on a bit of a skid and looking to right the ship against the rivals. Paso Robles entered the game riding a four-game losing streak that started on Jan. 9 with a pair of heartbreakers to Arroyo Grande and Atascadero. On Jan. 9 the girls in crimson battled the Eagles (6-1), who are tied in first with San Luis Obispo, in a crazy back and forth second half that saw five goals surrendered after none were scored in the first 40 minutes of game. But it was AG who squeaked out the 3-2 victory.

Paso Robles sophomore Hope McCarthy celebrates with her teammates after scoring the eventual game-winning goal. (photo by Connor Allen)

The Greyhounds entered Friday’s game having dropped three of their last four games with their lone victory coming over the Bearcats. Atascadero’s lone problem during their skid has been their ability to generate offense and execute and finish in the final third. Atascadero has only tallied two goals in their last six games but has only surrendered eight over that same time period. 

Friday night’s game at War Memorial Stadium played out very similar to the game in Atascadero just two weeks prior as both teams battled in the midfield but stout defense kept the offenses from generating many quality looks at the goal. 

After 30 minutes of soccer gridlock, the field finally began to open up and the first real scoring opportunity came to the Bearcats in the 33rd minute when they earned a corner kick and senior Jordan Bullard strolled into the box. The pass from the corner sailed over a few Greyhounds and a leaping Bullard headed the ball out of the air but sent it just high over the crossbar. 

Following the Hounds goal kick, Atascadero freshman Bella Valentine streaked down the sideline showing her speed and crossed it into the box but it was the Bearcats keeper Hannah Lowry who came down with the ball and started the counter-attack back the other direction. 

With just four minutes to go in the first half, Paso Robles sophomore Hope McCarthy, who had just checked into the game a few minutes prior, found herself under the ball as it bounced over a Greyhound defender and fired it into the goal for the only score of the night and the eventual game-winner. 

Atascadero freshman Bella Valentine fights Paso Robles’ Alexa Gonzalez.

“It bounced over the girls and I just saw an opportunity to hit it and I was hoping it would go somewhat on target,” McCarthy said. “And it ended up going in and slipping right past the keeper.”

The Atascadero versus Paso games feel a little bit different in girls soccer. While most kids grow up competing against local kids from neighboring cities, the soccer community largely knows one another due to the club teams in the area. So many of the girls in orange and crimson uniforms have worn the same colors in the past.

“It was really nice to score against my (former) teammates,” McCarthy said. Following the game both teams gathered at midfield and exchanged hugs, smiles and photos. 

Paso Robles opened up the second half with what looked like to many as a second goal. The ball bounced off the crossbar and into a scrum between Greyhound defenders and Bearcat forwards and eventually ended up in the back of the net but was waived off by the official. 

Atascadero generated their best scoring opportunity in the second half when do-it-all defender Anneline Breytenbach made a long run down the visitor’s sidelines and crossed a perfect ball into the box but was cleared out of danger without the Hounds getting a shot off. 

Atascadero’s Lilly Allen tries to steal the ball from Paso Robles’ Luisa Delgado.

“I am proud of them,” Paso Robles head coach Dillon Simoulis said. “I feel like they played a solid 80 minutes and played with a ton of effort and never gave up. They really had a lot of morale coming off of four losses — that is a tough thing to do. So to get the win and just play as hard as they did, I was really proud of that.”

Both the Hounds and the Bearcats have three games remaining this year and will look to make the most of them as they make a push for the postseason. Atascadero is currently 7-7-2 overall but 2-5 and in fourth place in a brutal Mountain League. Atascadero will play the top two teams in league this week on the road before hosting senior night on Feb. 5 against St. Joseph.

Paso Robles is 7-11-2 overall and 3-4 in the Ocean League (third place) and will host senior night on Tuesday when they face off against SLO and look to bounce back from the 5-0 loss to the Tigers in their last match. The Bearcats will finish the regular season on the road with back-to-back games against St. Joseph and Righetti.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles