Miners girls soccer wins Battle for the Rattle

(Kason Clark)

El Diamante picks up a 3-1 win over rival Golden West to end the regular season; the Miners now heads into the postseason with a 14-9-2 record and a 6-2-2 finish to East Yosemite League play

VISALIA – Not only was it the regular-season finale this past Thursday night, but it was the Battle for the Rattle between El Diamante and Golden West girls soccer. On a neutral field at Sequoias Stadium, both teams were looking for a big win over a rival to build momentum heading into the postseason.

And it was the Miners who grabbed that momentum as they pulled ahead for a 3-1 victory over the Trail Blazers on Feb. 8. As his team defeated its rival, El Diamante head coach Wes Johnson was happy with how the Miners played to end the regular season.

“We’re very excited that we’re starting to really play together and believe that we’re a winning program,” Johnson said. “The girls really showed a lot of heart and desire and they were excited as anybody to get out there, play and take it to Golden West to get this win.”

The Miners finish the regular season with an overall record of 14-9-2 and a mark of 6-2-2 in the East Yosemite League. They also split the season series after losing to Golden West, 2-1, earlier in the year. The Trail Blazers had gotten the better of the Miners over the years, so Jadyn Rivas and her teammates were more than happy to get one back in the Battle for the Rattle.

“Honestly it feels really great,” Rivas said. “It all came together as a team effort. It was not just one individual.”

The Miners took momentum early as they scored just 10 minutes into the contest. From deep, Bella Villarreal got her deep shot to go over the goalie into the goal for the lead. The Trail Blazers had an opportunity to respond when Jessica Garcia had a penalty kick late in the half. But the El Diamante goalie blocked the kick to maintain the lead.

An El Diamante Miner and a Golden West Trail Blazer fight for the ball this past Thursday night. In the Battle for the Rattle, the Miners won, 3-1, to end the regular season. (Kason Clark)

Early in the second half, Golden West finally responded when Garcia snuck the ball into the net to tie the match. But it did not take long for the Miners to respond. With about 21 minutes left on the clock, Rivas got a corner kick and was able to curve it into the goal to give her team the lead.

“It was just a lot of practice,” Rivas said about scoring on her corner kick. “Being on the outside takes a lot of practice curving it in and when you’re using your dominant foot on the side that you need to be at, it just does its job.”

Over the next 20 minutes of play, the Trail Blazers tried to respond to tie the game again. They had multiple opportunities, but the El Diamante defense held strong to keep the lead. While he wishes his team did not give up so many of those opportunities, Johnson commended his defense for standing tall in the most important areas of the field.

“We kept the ball out of some dangerous areas and didn’t allow Golden West to get a whole lot in front of our box,” Johnson said.

With just under four minutes left in the game, Brooklyn Bawanan put the game away with another goal for the Miners. When the clock finally ran out, the Trail Blazers finished the regular season with an overall record of 14-4-5 and a 6-3-1 mark in the East Yosemite League. As his team looks to move on from the disappointing showing, Golden West head coach Chiva Cuevas wants them to forget whatever happened in the regular season and now just focus on the upcoming postseason.

“It’s a brand new season in the playoffs and we have to take it game by game,” Cuevas said. “On Monday we’re just going to go back to the basics on what we know and the rest is going to be intensity and effort on Tuesday.”

The Miners will also be heading to the postseason after the big victory. As her team now looks to build off this win to start a run in the playoffs, Rivas believes they have to maintain the energy and teamwork that has made the Miners successful.

“We have to just keep up the intensity, really work together as a team and keep the team bond together,” Rivas said.

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