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Leigh girls win big at Avaya

Billy Braker, Sports Editor

The Leigh Longhorns and the Los Gatos Wildcats kicked off the Valley Health Plan High School Soccer Series under the lights of Avaya Stadium Monday evening, and the Lady Longhorns took control early in the first half to record their first win of the season in a 2-0 victory.

The majority of the the first half was on the Leigh half of the field, but excellent defense by the Longhorns kept the Wildcats scoreless. Despite playing defense nearly the entire first half, center midfielder and CSUMB commit Cassidy Ballard received a pass at the center half line and delivered a beautiful pass through the Wildcat defense to fellow senior, Dani Wheeler, who nailed a shot past the charging goalie within the first three minutes of the game.

“I just tried to play my part in the victory tonight, said Wheeler. “Stay on my side of the field and do what I can to score for my teammates. It was a great pass.”

The Wildcats kept knocking on the footsteps of the Leigh goal, but their shots either sailed over the post or right into the arms of the Longhorn goalkeeper to remain scoreless. With under two minutes to play in the first half, junior Ashley Bills delivered another beautiful pass that squeezed through the Wildcat defenders straight towards Avery Cannella, who aimed for the bottom left corner to stretch their lead to 2-0.

The second half was much like the first half, primarily on the Leigh side of the field, excluding the few Longhorn breakaways, but the second half was scoreless.

“We had a confident lead at half and knew we needed to shut down their forwards in order to keep this game scoreless,” said Cal commit and senior captain Emily Smith. “Just take our time and clear it safely. Excellent job by my teammates.”

The Longhorns most likely will not experience another game at Avaya, but they hope to use the momentum of Monday night to stretch their win streak to two when they travel to face the Pioneer Mustangs Wednesday afternoon. The Wildcats hope to improve to 2-1 when they host the Lancers of Saint Francis on Wednesday as well.

“Playing at Avaya Stadium was so incredible. It is beautiful here, great experience,” said Wildcat captains Sara Emami and Haley Saich. “As for our defense, we played solid all game, it was just those few plays that sneak past us and we need to prevent those if we want to be successful.”