Defeat Golden West 2-0 at home
TEMPLETON — Friday night the Templeton Eagles hosted Golden West in the CIF Central Section Division 3 quarterfinals and cruised to a 2-0 victory on the strength of their defense and one, quick, offensive flurry. Both the Eagles and the Trailblazers came into the match well-rested as the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, respectively, with free passes to the Quarterfinals via the first-round bye.
Templeton will be on the road Wednesday when they take on the No. 1 overall seed in Kingsburg, who is 18-7-2 overall and went undefeated in the Central Sequoia League. With a win they will play for a CIF Championship crown on Feb. 22.
The Eagles were the top defensive team in the Ocean League this year, allowing only 22 total goals according to Maxpreps.com. They showcased their defensive prowess to the rest of CIF-CS Division 3 Friday night when they shutout Golden West. It wasn’t just that the Trailblazers didn’t score — the girls green held them to just a handful of attempts as sophomore goalie Isabella Cowne could count the number of times she touched the ball on one hand.
“It feels great,” Cowne said of the win and the shutout. “But I only touched the ball like four times. It is not all about the saves, it’s about how the defense kept them off.”
With their defense clicking from the opening whistle, the Eagles turned to their offense and began generating opportunities. Templeton showcased their speed and skill on the outsides. Emily Puita, Merran Grindley and Lauryn Simmons kept knocking on the door but could not connect with their teammates in the final third.
“We had some opportunities to score earlier in the game,” Templeton head coach Mario Perez said. “We had a couple of crosses that we just didn’t get number on inside the box.”
After 15 minutes of getting close, Templeton finally broke through with less than three minutes left to go in the half off a Rayne Waltmire free-kick. The left back’s pass floated into the box where it was flicked on frame off the head of Grindley. The ball bounced off the top crossbar and right to an awaiting Lauryn English who put it in the back of the net. The last-minute goal demoralized the spirit of the Golden West team and Puita capitalized on their lack of urgency and scored the Eagles second goal barely a minute after their first.
The flash of offense is all Templeton would get Friday night but it was all they needed as their defense was at championship level all evening.
Wednesday night Templeton will be on the road for their CIF-CS semifinal game against Kingsburg. The Eagles will need to be at their absolute best Wednesday if they hope to make it to the Championship as the Vikings are currently in the midst of a 10-game winning streak and went 12-0 through their league season outscoring their opponents 47-2.
“It is very nerve-wracking, especially if they are the one seed — I didn’t know that,” Cowne said. “We just have to have a good mentality. We had a good mentality here but we have to keep it even higher this time because this is an even tougher team.”