Young Exeter team loses to the Vikings 2-1 in Division IV Valley Championship game on the road
By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN
KINGSBURG, CALIF. – For a team that shouldn’t have made it as far the Division IV Valley Championship game, the Exeter Monarchs made the most of their opportunity against the now three time champs.
After a narrow 2-1 loss to the Kingburg Vikings the Exeter girls soccer squad walked off the field with their hopes dashed. But on a team that had just six seniors, and tapestry of young talent, head coach Darin Lasky is looking forward to the future.
“There’s a lot of room to grow. And we’re super proud and super happy that we’re here. It was great season,” Lasky said.
In all, the Monarchs finished second in the Central Sequoia League behind Kingsburg, went 10-6-2 on the season and earned a No. 3 seed in the Division IV playoff bracket. And some of their seniors truly shined as examples for the future.
During the championship game, Lexe Cortez put the team on her back and put up their lone goal of the night when they were down 2-0 in the 64th minute. In one of the few times Exeter was able to get a clean shot in Kingsburg’s penalty area, Cortez weaved between defenders until she had an open shot on goal. While Kingsburg’s goalkeeper worked her way toward the right side of the net, Cortez launched the ball past her fingertips for the score.
“She’s just yeah, she’s going to carry us. That’s just the way she is,” Lasky said.
With most of his team likely to return next year, Lasky said the weight of a valley championship game is a large step towards the growth of his team.
“It’s huge [to have a young team experience Valley]. And for being so young they played like veterans. They really did. They held together, we stuck to our game plan, it just didn’t come together like we wanted,” Lasky said.
Exeter’s downfall ultimately came in the second half, when they could not stop the Viking’s key scoring threat, Marissa Montelongo.
“Unfortunately, Marissa, she’s good. She beat us twice and that’s just the way it goes,” Lasky said.
Montelongo, scored 35 goals through the regular season and playoffs and none was more satisfying than her first score in the 47th minute. As their top striker on the team and one of the best in the section, the Vikings like to send long passes up and over the top to her and let her speed past opposing defenders.
Up until Montelongo’s score, the games momentum shifted back and forth. Exeter would push the ball up field one small pass at a time, using the sidelines to their advantage, while Kingsburg aggressively took up chunks of field with every pass.
Montelongo’s score was followed just seven minutes later by her second. On a free kick just beyond the penalty area, Montelongo managed to lift the ball over the wall of Exeter defenders and past the goalie to go up 2-0.
When Cortez cut the deficit to one, Exeter’s energy to tie it up was at an all time high. And against a different team it might have been enough to win, but against the now three time defending valley champs, they came up short.
“That’s kind of been our MO all year long. We haven’t been able to put together a full game and Kingsburg keeps us on our toes and off our game all the time, and we actually kept them off their game most of the night,” Lasky said.