Whitney starting to pick up momentum

Team chemistry still mixing
By: Jim Linsdau
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What can make the game of soccer a bit frustrating is to have a team of talented individuals who sometimes want to play as individuals.


The Whitney High girls soccer team has six seniors and one that is headed for California State University, San Diego to play next year. Another leads in assists and another is at the tops in steals.


Underclassmen, like sophomore Sydney Johnson leads in goals scored. Freshman goalkeeper Reese Clarke has four shutouts.


But when minds wander, the Wildcats become vulnerable.


“The last game that we played, we played really compact, really moving the ball quick with confidence and all of a sudden, in the second half, we forgot how to play soccer,” Whitney head coach Ana Jones said, concerning the 6-4 win over Rodriguez. “The game itself, it’s a lot mental. If you make a mistake, forget about it and keep going. They turned the ball over and it completely messed their minds, their head goes down and we lose them.”


Fortunately, at 6-1-2, the ‘Cats haven’t gotten lost too often.


Whitney opened the season with three straight wins then tied the next two matches. The Wildcats beat Laguna Creek 4-0 and then lost 3-0 to Franklin (8-0-3). But after the Rodriguez game, they now seem to be on track. Last week, the team beat Pleasant Valley 4-0.


“That’s the team that we know that we have,” Jones said. “Sometimes they come out like that and sometimes they don’t, but tonight they did come out.”


The Vikings spent a lot of time bending to defend their goal, but 10 minutes into the contest, the bend broke. Johnson put a fake on PV’s goalkeeper and hit fellow sophomore Lexi Cavarra, who easily scored.


The Vikings (5-2-1) are a good team, but in the second half, Jones was able to clear her bench. Adding goals were Kiera Utush, Laney Paduveris and Isabel Barragan, another sophomore.


Try as they might, Pleasant Valley had real trouble moving the ball onto Whitney’s side of the pitch.


“The defense is still a little bit shaky,” Jones said, whose center-back Emily Martin has been out with injury. “We played new players, Ashley (Ryan) … and Jessie (Farley) and Sarah (Davis); they’re all new to the team, so we’re trying to get that together and once we get it together, they’re not going to score on us. It’s going to be tough.”


As for tough, the Wildcats were scheduled to play perennial powerhouse Davis Tuesday and Placer Thursday before going on Christmas break. And to show the team has heart, the ‘Cats decided not to exchange gifts, but instead make a monetary donation to Pleasant Valley. Some of the Vikings’ players lost homes and a lot of equipment in the Camp Fire.


There’s little doubt that Whitney plays with heart.