The Shasta girls soccer team battled Pleasant Valley to a 2-2 tie in the regular season finale. Playoff seeds will be announced Saturday. (File photo by Chico Enterprise-Record)
By Justin Couchot
CHICO — Entering halftime of Friday’s soccer match between the Pleasant Valley and Shasta High girls soccer teams, the Vikings seemed to be in control of the game.
While the Vikings may have looked to be dominating the early stages of the game, playing their best half of soccer all season in their final regular season game according to coach Eric Snedeker, Shasta picked up play in the second half, using two late goals to tie PV 2-2 at the end of the 80 minutes of regulation.
Shasta, which lost 1-0 to Chico High on Tuesday, rebounded to close out the regular season.
“I think senior night is always motivating for a team,” said Shasta coach Jamie Fleming. “I think the first 30 minutes of the first half (Pleasant Valley) played well and played hard and then I think part of the first half we came in, settled in and then dominated in the second half.”
With Pleasant Valley (11-5-2, 6-3-1 Eastern Athletic League) leading scorer Rylee Jellison out Friday with a hamstring injury, sophomore Jillian Weber opened the scoring for the Vikings in the 15th minute on a shot just over a leaping Avery Harbour and into the Shasta goal. Erica Simas passed the ball to Faylinn Berkowitz, who passed it to Weber just outside of the penalty box for the shot.
After the halftime break, Shasta came out with strong intensity similar to its final 10 minutes of the first. PV seemed to be happy with its 1-0 lead.
“I think we pretty much dominated the first half,” Snedeker said. “Second half we got a little flat. We don’t have a lot of depth. I think the girls were trying hard but Shasta picked up some momentum and put us on our heels a little bit.”
After Shasta dominated possession in the second half, the Vikings broke through again in the 72nd minute. After a cross by PV was juggled between both teams, Kyler Garner gave the Vikings a 2-0 lead with just eight minutes remaining.
Vikings’ goalkeeper and senior Ashley Friend appeared to be on her way to her 11th shutout and possibly the biggest of the season against the No. 2 ranked Wolves (14-2-4, 7-2-1 EAL).
Garner’s goal was the start of three goals in three minutes between the two teams.
One and a half minute after the Garner goal, Gabrielle Johnson, fresh onto the field after coming off at the 62 minute mark and re-entering with 10 minutes to go, shot a low, line drive free kick from the 18-yard line around the PV wall and past Friend diving to her right to make the game 2-1.
One minute later, Johnson got a second opportunity from nearly the same spot and nearly beat Friend once again. Friend dove, blocked the shot, deflecting it in front of her and to the foot of Shasta’s Laney Green who scored to even the game at two.
“Obviously I think it was a mental letdown,” Snedeker said. “Two free kicks made the difference for Shasta. I think we regrouped, but by that time, we had kinda shifted into playing more five in the midfield. So once they tied it up it was hard to get back into the flow so at that point it was anybody’s game.”
Northern Section coaches will meet at 2 p.m. Saturday to determine playoff seedings.
“Everybody will most likely stay the same,” Snedeker said. “We’re all going to the playoffs and its a whole new season. My girls should go into with a little more confidence prior to this game with that first half. They know they can play.”