HANFORD — Sierra Pacific went into Thursday’s game wanting to work on its chemistry and passing. Well, the result was a 10-0 win over Avenal and an end to its three-game losing streak.
“Today was all about putting it all together,” Sierra Pacific coach Christa Smith said. “We’re a work in progress, but they definitely stepped up and we had some girls in different positions that worked well for them.”
The 10 goals were the most Sierra Pacific has scored in a game since the season opener against Dos Palos when they beat them 15-0 in 2013, according to MaxPreps.
Sierra Pacific sophomore Sadie Ronquillo had a hat trick — in the first half — and three other players each scored two goals apiece. The offensive firepower from some of the young strikers should be fun to watch this season.
The Golden Bears (3-3-2) have seven freshman and seven sophomores on the team all trying to learn how to vibe with one another and play to each other’s strengths. The only senior on the team is defender Ashlyn Martinez.
“From the beginning we’ve been trying to pass and just learn everybody’s play,” Ronquillo said.
But if youth is an issue, it wasn’t apparent during Thursday’s game. The match wasn’t even 60 seconds old when Ronquillo put her first goal in the net.
From the first touch, Sierra Pacific advanced into the penalty area where freshman Emma Martella had a shot on goal blocked by Avenal’s goalkeeper. Ronquillo forced the issue and forced the goal by Avenal (0-5).
And just like that, the Golden Bears were off to the races.
Just two minutes later, Ronquillo got into the penalty area and took a cross and put in the easy goal. Sierra Pacific had a 2-0 lead in three minutes after scoring two goals in its last three games.
“It’s really a team effort,” a humble Ronquillo said about her hat trick. “I get the ball from the girls back there. We do all the work together.”
In the fifth minute, Martella found herself with the ball from about 30 yards out. The freshman took a couple dribbles through two defenders and shot from the top of the penalty area for the 3-0 lead.
“Working together, get the passes down, good communication,” Thayer said about the team’s quick start. “We all work really well together.”
The goals just seemed to start rolling in after this point. Ronquillo started a nice break in the 19th minute followed by a pass to sophomore Bella Tomas, who then crossed it to Kaitlin Thayer for the easy score.
Thayer scored again in the 22nd minute when a corner kick found her foot, which redirected the ball off her head and into the net for the inadvertent goal. She trotted back up the field in disbelief and giggling with teammate Stacey Patino.
“I want to say it’s skill,” Thayer said with a huge smile. “Definitely skill.”
Ronquillo added her third goal of the match in the 33rd minute for her hat trick and the 6-0 lead at halftime.
After the first three goals, Smith had the team make multiple passes and set each other up before taking a shot. She wanted to make sure good sportsmanship was still in order, which Sierra Pacific did a good job of handling.
The Golden Bears added another goal in the 50th, 59th, 76th and 79th minute. The four goals were alternated by sophomore Mackenzie Spencer and freshman Kayla Sizemore.
Sierra Pacific’s offensive display ended with 25 shots, 22 shots on goal and four corner kicks. Avenal had two shots on goal for the entire game and really struggled to move the ball up the field let alone gain possession of it
Snapping their losing streak was great, but don’t read too much into the team’s previous three-game slide. They played higher division opponents in last week’s Lemoore tournament, which contributed to some of their struggles.
On the team getting more comfortable with each other, Thayer said, “…taking our skills we’ve learned from different past coaches and letting each other know with these helpful hints during the game and just bonding really together with chemistry, I think that is what really got us through the game and what’s going to get us through the season.”