SOCCER: Bearcats contain Cardinals’ top scorer, head to semis

The Fowler Bearcats score three goals and hold the Lindsay Cardinals to one to move on to the Division IV semifinals

FOWLER – With experience playing the Lindsay Cardinals, the Fowler Bearcats prioritized shutting down their top scorer in their quest to move on to the semifinals.

The Cardinals, seeded seventh in the Division IV playoff bracket, faced the number two seeded Bearcats, in the quarterfinals on Friday, Feb. 17. After losing to Fowler once and beating them once earlier in the season, the Cardinals were hoping to repeat their 2-1 win over the Bearcats. But the experience of playing each other went both ways and the Bearcats had a strategy to shut down Lindsay’s leading scorer. The Bearcats won 3-1, moving on to the semifinals and ending the Cardinals’ season.

“We’ve played them twice before so we knew [Isabella Duran] was a monster,” Fowler head coach Richard Gonzales said. “Always keeping her in our sights and then getting the ball wide to work back in is what worked for us.”

The game between the Bearcats and the Cardinals was pushy, with the Bearcats utilizing their ball handling skills to keep possession from the Cardinals. Senior Damaris Lopez netted the first goal for Fowler just 13 minutes into the game. Though the Cardinals were able to set up several plays on offense and made some good shots, they just couldn’t get the ball in the net. Then, with two minutes remaining in the half, sophomore Melayna Vasquez scored two more goals for the Bearcats, making it 3-0 at halftime.

The Cardinals finally got their first goal on the board by freshman Aracely Perez in the beginning of the second. Despite playing better on offense in the second half, they weren’t able to get another shot past the goalie for the rest of the game.

“They played good,” Lindsay head coach Alfredo Martinez said. “In the second half, we took it to them.”

The Bearcats’ strategy of containing Duran really limited the team. Every time Duran got the ball, opposing players immediately descended upon her and she struggled to get towards the goal. She fell victim to more than one tripping penalty. Other forwards stepped up, but the Cardinals’ wings were clipped. Duran said she felt “honored” to have been deemed an important enough player to be targeted directly by the other team.

Duran broke the Lindsay girls’ soccer all-time scoring record previously held by assistant coach Jannely Rangel. Rangel’s record to beat was 116 goals and Duran flew past it, scoring 137 goals in her four-year varsity career. As a senior, she finishes with 49 goals in her final season. She hopes to go on and play college soccer next fall.

“When I started scoring goals and being consistent, my coach told me there was a record,” Duran said. “I’ve been working at [breaking it] for four years.”

Martinez brought on Rangel as an assistant coach when she returned to Lindsay after playing Division I soccer because they won a valley championship with her on the team. He wanted her to bring her experience to the team. Between Rangel and Martinez, they coached the Cardinals to an East Sequoia League championship.

Lindsay finished with a league record of 5-1-2. Overall, they won 20 out of 30 games and made it to the quarterfinals of playoffs. Though nine seniors will be graduating, they have potential, with four freshmen on the roster and there are three players Martinez has his eye on coming into high school next year.

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