By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
EXETER – When this season began, the Exeter Monarchs were winless against the Central Valley Christian Cavaliers in 21 games, according to Maxpreps.com. Late last month that streak, which dated back to 2007, ended when Exeter won 1-0. On Thursday night, Feb. 8, Exeter completed the sweep by a score of 2-0 at Monarch Stadium.
“It was a great, great, great team effort,” Exeter head coach Darin Lasky said. “Things are just clicking in the right direction for us right now.”
Possession of the ball has always been a priority for the Exeter Monarchs (13-5, 8-2). For the overwhelming majority of the game, they were able to keep possession. Their passes seemed to be sent with a target.
Just eight minutes into the game, one of those passes found its purpose, and resulted in Exeter’s first goal. Isabel Martinez brought the ball along the near side of the field. When she got down close to the Cavaliers’ penalty box, she crossed it. Entering the box from the middle of the field was Julie Rocha. All she had to do was stick her left leg out to redirect the ball for a score, 1-0.
Exeter continued to have scoring chances throughout the first half. A centering attempt off an Exeter corner kick found the knee of Lexe Cortez, who sent the ball over the net. With two minutes left, CVC attempted to clear the zone, and the ball came to Taelor Hire. From the 35 yard line, she launched a shot toward the goal, but it bounced off the far post.
It was not until the second half that Exeter got their second goal. Brianna Villafana kicked the ball into the penalty box during the 17th minute. It bounced off the back foot of a Cavalier defender and off her hand for a violation. Since it occurred in the penalty box, Exeter received a penalty kick. Cortez took the shot and scored in the lower right corner.
But the win did not come without a price. Two Monarch players went down with ankle injuries. In the first half starting center defender Julia Nelson, who had been plagued by ankle injuries in the past, went down. Then in the remaining seconds of the game, Cortez, who had been scoring multiple goals for Exeter, exited the game.
“Unfortunately when referees let things go, like stuff in the back, we end up with players getting hurt,” Lasky said. “I am hoping we are looking good come next week, but you have to deal with injuries all the time. It is just ‘next man up’.”
The Monarchs will have a little more time to get healthy. Their second place finish in the Central Sequoia League earned them the No. 3 seed in the D-IV playoffs. They will host the winner of the No. 6 South (Bakersfield) Rebels and the No. 11 Wasco Tigers. All eyes, however, are on a possible CSL rematch in the valley final between the Kingsburg Vikings and the Monarchs.