The Santa Catalina School girls soccer team passed its latest test Thursday afternoon, showing that it was not about to let an upstart take its place.
Santa Catalina, the defending Mission Trail Athletic League champions tallied two goals in each half and defeated Greenfield 4-0.
With the win, Santa Catalina improved to 4-0 in the MTAL. Greenfield, which had caught fire up to this point by stunning the rest of the league with its late-game heroics, slipped into second place at 3-1.
Both coaches saw the game as the ideal big game at the right time of the season. For Santa Catalina, the Cougars are still trying to shake off a lengthy winter break. For Greenfield, it was their biggest test to date as they tried to take the top spot in the MTAL all to itself.
It was Santa Catalina who struck in many different ways, keeping Greenfield off the board.
The Cougars got on the board in the sixth minute. Daisy Villegas raced down the right side and waited to find a teammate. She passed the ball to Allie Aiello, who was open for a split second in the center. Aiello booted the ball and it dribbled into the back of the net, giving Santa Catalina a 1-0 lead.
Santa Catalina coach Ash Vasanji said scoring early was key in a game like Thursday’s contest.
“We had to bite early,” Vasanji said.
Santa Catalina went up 2-0 just before the half. Samantha Mudd, from about 30 yards out, slowly went down the sideline as the Greenfield defense crept toward her. She appared ready to fire a shot on goal, but she instead passed to a cutting Villegas, who one timed it.
In the 43rd minute, the Cougars cleared the ball to midfield. Aiello received the ball at midfield and broke free past the last Greenfield defender who was back. Aiello ran down the right sideline and fired the ball to the left side of the goal for a 3-0 Santa Catalina lead.
Sophia White put the Cougars ahead 4-0 when she hit the ball from about 45 yards away at an angle that sailed right into the goal.
“They never let Greenfield, who was undefeated in league, affect the way they played today,” Vesanji said of his squad.
Greenfield did its best to match the Cougars’ early in the first half.
In the 13th minute, Joseline Zavala sent the ball deep into the Santa Catalina zone. It appeared two Santa Catalina defenders were going to get to the ball in time, but Raquel Garcia had a beat on the defenders. Garcia collided with the Santa Catalina goalkeeper as she got to the ball.
Two minutes later, Alicia Montanez received a pass from Gabriela Pacheco about 20 yards from the goal. Montanez lobbed the ball past the Santa Catalina goalkeeper, but the ball sailed high and wide.
Pacheco and Montanez tried another give-and-go play in the 24th minute, but the Santa Catalina defense stopped the Greenfield scoring powers.
Greenfield’s Maritza Trujillo had a look in the 71st minute on a two-on-two break, but her shot attempt was blocked.
“It just wasn’t our day,” said Greenfield coach Juan Pulido. “We weren’t focusing on the game, and it showed.”
Pulido said some of the players were nervous, given the early-season stakes, and he plans to take the lessons learned from the game into the rest of the season.
“If we lost, I’m glad it happened now instead of the end of the season,” he said. “It brought us back to reality. Now we have to get back to basics.”
Santa Catalina will try to stay unbeaten in MTAL play on Tuesday when it travels to Stevenson. Greenfield, meanwhile, will play host to Gonzales.