Girls Soccer: Monarchs drop third straight league match to Vikings

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A late goal in the first half gives Exeter their third straight one-goal loss to Kingsburg in the past two seasons

By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

EXETER – The Monarchs were feeling the pressure on Thursday night, Jan. 11, as they played their Central Sequoia League (CSL) openers. In town were the defending CSL and D-IV Valley champs, the Kingsburg Vikings. Try as they may, the Monarchs seemed to be one step behind as they lost to the Vikings 1-0. This is the third straight one-goal loss Exeter has had against Kingsburg.

“I am really happy with the way we played,” Exeter head coach Darin Lasky said. “We’ve had our test prior to this game, but this was our first one both league and division wise.”

From the first whistle, communication helped the Exeter Monarchs (6-3, 1-1) successfully defend against the faster forwards of the Kingsburg Vikings (13-1-1, 1-0). Before throw-ins or attacks, Exeter defenders were constantly calling out where the ball was, resulting in the Viking attacker always being covered.

Defensively, the Monarchs also kept the center of the field clear. When Kingsburg tried their patented lob attack to their Marissa Montelongo, Exeter defenders took the right angles to force her to the edge.

However, even from the edge, the league’s leading scorer from last season made things happen. In the 26th minute, Montelongo was forced to the far side of Exeter’s penalty box. From there she sent a cross pass to a charging Lindsey Ardavanis. When she made contact, the ball rose too fast and bounced off the top cross bar and away.

After that near miss, the game settled into a battle for possession in the center of the field. Exeter was able to take advantage of attacks around the 30th minute, resulting in a couple of set pieces from 20 yards away. Unfortunately, neither found their mark, and the next Kingsburg attack would.

With the clock nearing stoppage time in the first half, the Vikings charged into the Monarchs’ zone. At the 20 yard line, a foul occurred that gave them a free kick. Gianna Alves lined up and sent the ball into the penalty box. The ball was kicked around, and Exeter’s goal keeper came out to make a save. Just then, the ball was knocked away, and Kingsburg’s Giselle Quinones kicked it in for the game’s only goal.

“On that free kick they got a little chaos in the box, and you’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities,” said Lasky.

When the second half began, the Monarchs were on the attack within the first minute. It seemed their quick passing to the middle of the field and along the sides were now finding their marks. Yet, a corner kick and a set piece later, Exeter still trailed 1-0. Lasky noted that seeing his team respond like this despite being down three returning starters due to injuries was a positive.

Shortly after the Monarchs made a position switch that helped their offense, Taelor Hire was moved from defender to the forward. That switch did not pay dividends until the last few minutes of the game when the Monarchs had three corner kicks. Hire took all three, and on the third, Exeter had their best look at scoring. As Hire lobbed the ball into the box, players fought to position themselves for a header. The ball came close the Kingsburg keeper who punched it away, and the ball was cleared.

“We weren’t able to get anything out of corners tonight, and we can’t afford not to,” Laskey said.

The Monarchs look to stay in contention in the CSL. They will host the Immanuel Eagles tonight at 6 p.m. The Eagles are coming off a 5-0 loss to the Selma Bears on Friday, Jan. 12.

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