Saturday, November 28, 2015 • 05:12

Despite injuries, Lady Jags get back on track with soccer win over Ramona

Kiana Diefenbach (13) fights for the ball in the air in front of the Ramona goal.
February 21, 2014
With its starting goalkeeper and two key defenders out, the Valley Center varsity girls soccer team faced a tough challenge against Ramona at home on Friday night.

And on top of the tough competition presented by the visiting Lady Bulldogs, the Lady Jaguars came in with three consecutive losses, with only three games left in the regular season.

But behind a stellar defensive effort in front of backup goalie Savanna Reilly, the Lady Jags pulled off a 2–1 win that gives the team some momentum heading into the season's final week.

Neither offense could find a way to get through the opposing defense in the first half, as the ball stayed mostly in the midfield. Valley Center did come up with a brilliant chance midway through the opening half, as Reilly sent a long ball out of her zone and down the middle of the field, where Kiana Diefenbach was able to get away a shot that glanced off a defender and was barely kept out of the net by the Ramona keeper.

The midfield play continued in the early minutes of the second half until a Ramona corner led to a header that went just wide midway through the period.

The Lady Jaguars got the breakthrough with just over 17 minutes left on the clock after great hustle down the sideline by Diefenbach led to a corner kick. Diefenbach took the kick and drove a perfect pass to Helen Lopez in front of the keeper for a quick shot and a goal, giving Valley Center a 1–0 lead.

Less than two minutes later, however, Ramona got the equalizer it needed on a mistake by the Lady Jaguar keeper that led to a goal that tied the game at one.

But with just over ten minutes left in the game, Diefenbach put her team back on top for good with a great hustle play that resulted in the game-winning goal. On a long pass that trickled into the 18-yard box, Diefenbach out-muscled a defender, tipped the ball away from the charging goalie and buried the ball in the back of the net to put the Lady Jags in the lead once again.

Down the stretch, Reilly came up with some outstanding saves and defender Brie Dunckel got a big block on a breakaway shot attempt to keep the lead and the win intact.

"Our defense was the key to this win, especially filling the gaps with those three major injuries," head coach Joshua Jones said of losing goalkeeper Nicole Venisse and defenders Leina Villemez and Clara Padinske. "It's important for the girls to see that we can suffer some tough losses, but when we play like we know we can, these are the results we expect to see. This was a big win because Ramona was ahead of us (in the CIF playoffs standings) so hopefully this gives us a little buffer for getting in."

Going into the game, the Lady Jags were in line to miss the playoffs by one spot as the No. 13-ranked team.

But with a big win under their belts and two more games remaining on the schedule, the Lady Jaguars are focused on improving their seeding in the season's final week.

The Lady Jags played at Mission Vista on Wednesday and they finish up the regular season at home against Orange Glen at 5:15 p.m.

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