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Perez scores twice, Lady Honkers blank Pierce
Lynette Perez scored the only two goals of the game and Willows High beat visiting Pierce High 2-0 in a Sacramento Valley League-One match Thursday.
Pierce nearly took the lead 17 minutes into the game, but a shot by Erica Granados bounced off the right goal post. Yasmin Velazquez had another chance to put the Bears up, but her shot hit the left goal post in the 23rd minute.
Perez, a junior striker, counter-attacked off the deflection and kicked a strong shot across the face of the goal and scored in the 24th minute for a 1-0 Honker lead.
The goal was a relief for Willows and Perez, who was frustrated by their slow start and Pierce's near misses.
"When I scored the first goal I was so mad because everyone was yelling at me what I was doing wrong, so I just put my anger on it and scored," Perez said.
For the rest of the first half, both teams traded shots but neither gained much of an advantage.
Willows goalkeeper Jennifer Chappell kept the shutout intact in the 64th minute, leaping high and deflecting a free kick by Pierce forward Marissa Espino over the crossbar, and the Bears couldn't capitalize on the corner kick. Chappell made four saves in the game.
Perez added an insurance goal with less than two minutes left in regulation, stealing the ball behind the Bears defense and scoring into the left side of the net.
"I think we were talking, usually that's our weakness. Our passes were getting a little cleaner so that helped a little," Perez said.
Espino put a strong shot on goal during injury time but Chappell made the save to end any hope for a comeback.
The same weaknesses which hurt the Bears when they lost to Willows 4-2 on Jan. 15 cost them on Thursday, coach Duffy Bailey said. In the first meeting, the Honkers won a battle on the outside for two of their goals.
"(Perez) is a pretty good player, she's got a nice leg. She's able to see the field and, if the goalie is out a little bit, she chips it over. It was a nice shot, not much you can do about that," Bailey said.
Pierce starts just four juniors and one sophomore, the rest are freshmen. Their inexperience sometimes allows a veteran player to find a hole.
"My defense is all freshmen and they're doing great. They just have to figure out the speed of the high school game and what they got away with in 8th grade they can't get away with anymore," Bailey said.
Pierce (3-5-3, 1-3-1 SVL-I) hosts Durham on Tuesday.
Willows (5-6-3, 3-2-1 SVL-I) travels to first-place Live Oak on Tuesday.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.