Granite Hills and Woodlake too close to call as both teams fight for third in ESL
WOODLAKE – Granite Hills and Woodlake showed just how close things are in the East Sequoia League (ESL). Two overtime periods wasn’t enough as the two teams ended in a 1-1 tie on Tuesday, April 13.
Both teams are fighting to stay alive in the close league standings. All four of the top teams have a tie on their record. Lindsay and Sierra Pacific are currently tied in first with league records of 5-0-1, as the two teams tied 1-1 in their first head to head battle.
Behind them is Woodlake (2-1-1) and Granite hills (2-2-1). Prior to starting their league schedule, Granite Hills proved that they are in the conversation for best girls soccer team in Porterville, despite being smaller than their cross town rivals. For the first time in nearly 20 years, they defeated Porterville and Monache in the same season by scores of 3-1 and 3-0, respectively.
It was the tale of two halves in the game between the Grizzlies and Tigers as Granite Hills sophomore Rosa Marron opened the match with a score. Senior Brianna Rodriguez was credited with the assist as her shot deflected off the goalkeeper and Marron was right there to put it in.
Woodlake head coach Florencio Guerra says his team has struggled to open games this year. Prior to their match against Granite Hills, he made them do sprints during warm ups because they looked sluggish, which is exactly how they opened the game. He’s still trying to figure out why his team prefers to play better in the second half of games, which happened again against the Grizzlies. After trailing 1-0 at the half, they came out of the break and tied the score and didn’t allow another goal the rest of the way.
Athletes at Woodlake High School have not been allowed to compete in multiple sports at once, which has hurt a lot of teams across campus. He had seven varsity starters return from last season, and the rest are in tennis, swim and softball. Guerra related it to playing football without a running back, as he’s missing a lot of his key offensive weapons.
If they were working with last year’s team, he deems their season record would be vastly different. They are hoping that the administration will soon allow athletes to compete in multiple sports. Until then, they are working with multiple freshmen and sophomores who have never played competitive soccer. On a positive note, they are getting valuable playing time that will benefit them down the line which has Guerra excited for the future of his squad. Despite their struggles, they still have a chance to finish atop the ESL standings.
The ESL is heading into the second half of their matches, and first place is still up for grabs.