Another shutout helps Knights soccer extend win streak

A soccer ball.

A soccer ball.

The Shadow Hills High School girls’ soccer team registered its sixth consecutive shutout in a 4-0 win over Garey High in Pamona on Tuesday.

But unlike the five others, this shutout may have actually been the difference between a win and a loss for the Lady Knights, who now advance to the Division 7 California Interscholastic Federation quarterfinals on Thursday.

During what has now become a 14-game win streak, Shadow Hills has scored 76 goals, or 5.4 per game. Because of the offense, the Knights haven’t needed its defense, and goalkeeper Kaylin Eastman, to win games. In their first round game last Thursday, the Knights scored two goals in the first six minutes.

Yet in Pamona on Tuesday, it was the defense that kept Shadow Hills in the game early as the offense took all but one minute of the first half to get on the scoreboard despite more than a handful of shots.

“We weren’t playing our game,” midfielder Jasmin Castillo said. “We weren’t passing and communicating.”

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Added freshman forward Mason Stansberry: “I don’t think our head was in the game. I think we came out a little too overconfident. Then, we just snapped into it.”

With the squad still trying to find its rhythm on the road and on an unfamiliar synthetic field with midfielder Jackie Rodriguez feeling ill, the defense again came through for the Knights, allowing just two shots on goal in the first half and not allowing the Vikings to control the possession.

Finally, in the 39th minute, with less than a minute before halftime, it paid off.

Shadow Hills midfielder Natalie Navarro send a pinpoint pass down the left sideline to teammate Liliana Zavala, who sent the ball to Stansberry.

After Stansberry drew the Garey defense toward her near the goal, she dished the ball to Luz Quezada. A minor hesitation allowed the Garey goalie to recover and block Quezada’s shot, but Castillo secured the rebound, firing the ball into the back of the net to give the Knights a monumental lead heading into the intermission.

“That was very important,” Stansberry said. “That changed the course of the whole game.”

The goal seemed to alleviate the pressure. The Knights appeared to flip the switch, and dominated the remainder of the game.

Not falling behind in those first 39 minutes may have made the biggest difference.

“That was a little bit of pressure, especially now that we’re in CIF,” Eastman said. “Our main goal is to go out and score right away, but the defense has to play well in case that doesn’t happen.”

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With that lead, the Knights cruised in the second half. Stansberry scored just three minutes into the half off a corner kick, and found the back of the net again in the 62nd minute with a header on a pass from Castillo. Anabelle Olivas added the fourth goal for good measure.

Navarro had two assists and Rodriguez added another.

But the story was the Shadow Hills defense, which has only allowed 11 goals during the 14-game win streak. That’s after allowing 14 scores in the previous nine games, dating back to the season opener.

Shadow Hills will play St. Genevieve (18-2-1) of Panorama City on Thursday at home for a chance to reach the CIF semifinals for the second consecutive year.

That’s also a chance to extend the win streak to 15 games and the shutout streak to eight-consecutive.

“Hopefully we can keep going,” Eastman said. “That is our goal.”

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