Defeat Santa Maria 3-1 to pickup first league win

TEMPLETON — The Templeton Eagles girls soccer team got off to a slow start to their 2019-2020 season but returned to their winning ways on Friday night when they defeated Santa Maria 3-1 at home on Erb Field. The victory was the Eagles first in the Ocean league after they dropped their first two against Nipomo and Orcutt Academy. 

“We actually had a pretty good pre-season even though we played some really tough teams and that’s what we were wanting to do,” Templeton head coach Mario Perez said following the game. “We played San Luis and Arroyo Grande, it’s been a while since we played them. So, playing them kind of gave us a gage on where we should be. We were able to score and play them pretty well.

After cruising to an Ocean League title, 9-1 record in league and 17-5-2 overall,  last season the Eagles beefed up their preseason schedule in hopes that it would help them in the long run, with CIF in mind. 

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Templeton captain Lauryn Simons dribbles past a Santa Maria defender.

Templeton entered this season having to replace five seniors from last year’s team including three captains in Kiely Payne, Iveth Cortes and goalkeeper Makaila Landes. Payne and Landes were key defensive players a year ago but while the Eagles may have lost some depth in the backend they more than makeup for it offensively as they returned all four of their leading scorers as well as two captains in Grace Alsup and Lauryn Simmons. 

The reigning Ocean League Champions opened the season with three straight games against Mountain League opponents and went 1-2 defeating the Bearcats in War Memorial Stadium 2-1. Following a slate of tough local games, Templeton played in the Peggy Renberg Holiday Classic and came home with a trophy ready to start league play. 

“When we came back we just slowed down,” Perez said. “All of a sudden it was like we were back at square one,” 

After their first league game was rained out the Eagles hosted the Nipomo Titans, Dec. 17, for their home league opener and fell 2-0. Three days later they made the trip to take on their most recent rival in the Orcutt Academy Spartans, who pushed Templeton to the brink in a 2OT thriller last year and lost in penalty kicks after two overtime periods after tying 2-2 in regulation. 

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Templeton freshman Lauryn English whips a cross into the box.

Following the loss, the Eagles had two weeks off for the holidays and returned to action Friday and appear to be back on track. 

“I think it was the girls getting to know one another because we had to pick up those five new girls to replace our seniors” Perez noted.

Templeton beat the Saints 3-1 but the score could have been 8-1 had the girls finished every quality scoring opportunity they generated. Junior midfielder Siena Sagely opened the scoring for the home team only six minutes into the game when she picked up a ricochet and fired it into the back of the net. 

“I think our team has to work on connecting and scoring in general,” Sagely said. “We are a new team so it is just building that bond between us and I think it is getting stronger as you can see from this game and — yeah I think the connection is all that we are looking for.”

The Eagles dominated the majority of the possession but did not put in another goal until the end of first half when Emily Puita added another goal. Santa Maria broke free for a goal in the second half cutting the lead down to 2-1 but the Eagles quickly responded as Merran Grindley sprinted down the sideline and sent in a perfect cross to Lauryn English who slotted it perfectly for the game-sealing goal and a 3-1 victory. 

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Templeton junior Merran Grindley brings a ball a high pass during Friday’s game. (photos by Connor Allen).

“Even though we are a small town we make things happen,” Sagely said following the win. “And just because our team was really good last year doesn’t mean that we can’t do it again. We do have some fresh talent but once they grow their confidence we will be really good.”

Templeton is now 4-6 on the season and 1-2 in the Ocean League but is set up nicely to make a big run. The Eagles play Pioneer Valley, Mission Prep, Morro Bay and Santa Maria again in their next four games who are the bottom four teams in the Ocean League. Following the run, Templeton will play Nipomo, who is currently 4-0 in league, in a huge road game on January 24 and follow it up with a rematch against Orcutt Academy at home on January 28.