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Lady RedHawks caged by Panthers
REDDING - Sometimes having the desire to win, or coming into a championship game with momentum is not enough when going up against a team that is stocked with raw talent.
When third-seeded Colusa High kicked off with No. 1 U-Prep in Redding on Saturday the Panthers were just the better team, and the final score reflected it as the RedHawks were beaten 3-0.
"By far, they're not in the same league as us," said Colusa coach Amanda Jones. "We come from a town of 6,000 and our pool is a lot smaller," she explained of U-Prep's ability to draw talent from an area of approximately 90,000 people.
The exceptional depth of the Panthers - many of whom play on the same club team - made it possible for them to play without leading goal-scorer Madison Thompson, who was on crutches due to an injury sustained playing Willows in the semifinals.
Still they didn't miss a trick, or many kicks, for that matter.
The Panthers have excellent team speed and were often first to the ball, and used their strong passing skills to alternate between jamming the middle and criss-crossing the ball to playing the lines. U-Prep stayed in their lanes to be in position for passes kicked not to where they were but to where they were supposed to be, and the bulk of the action took place on their side of midfield.
Erin Martin found herself free to get full foot on a corner from Karly Chin to score in the 12th minute as the RedHawks didn't have anybody who went to the ball.
Maia Chin rifled in a shot from 20-yards out in extra time to make it 2-0 at the half.
"They're really fast," gasped Colusa keeper Jennifer Pulido as she came to the sideline at intermission. "They're everywhere, there's so many of them."
Facing a steady barrage of scoring opportunities, the score could have been much worse if not for the work Pulido did in goal, only allowing a Sammy Matagulay score near the end of the game.
It would have taken a near-perfect defensive performance to stop U-Prep (15-1).
"You have to block all their passes. They're fast, so you have to make it hard for them to shoot," Pulido said. "Their whole lineup charges the net; we played the best we could."
The only legitimate scoring chance for Colusa came in the second half on an Ashleigh Biggs breakaway, but freshman keeper Marin McGhee wasted no time in coming out to challenge Biggs and stopping her shot early.
"(U-Prep) has played together a long time and they all have the same ball skills and speed," explained Jones. "It took us longer this year to play as a team."
The coach added, "We were never defeated, we still had spirit."
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.