KINGSBURG - Behind goals from Marissa Montelongo and Denise Elias, the Kingsburg girls soccer team earned its first victory of the 2018-19 season with a 2-1 nonleague win over Liberty High School (Madera Ranchos) on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
After a tough 0-3-1 start, Montelongo and Elias said it was great to get back on the win column.
“The other games before this were really close games and there was a lot of them that we played really really hard,” Montelongo said. “Getting this first win felt awesome. Everything is finally coming together right now and I can’t to see what the future games hold for us.”
“We’ve been practicing hard, training hard as a team,” Elias said. “We just push each other and it just feels good to back.”
After the win, the Vikings improved to 1-3-1 on the season and Kingsburg’s three losses are already more than last year’s total at two.
In the first half, the game was scoreless until Montelongo scored her third goal of season in the 27th minute to put the Vikings up 1-0. Heading into the game against the Liberty Hawks, Montelongo was responsible for the team’s only goals of the season. Kingsburg was outscored 2-8 before facing the Hawks.
Before Montelongo scored against Liberty, Kingsburg put constant pressure at the net with seven shots on goals.
Later in the half, Elias added to the lead with her first goal of the year in the 35th minute and the Vikings went into halftime ahead 2-0.
In the second half, both team held each other scoreless until a late goal from Liberty in the 75 minute.
Despite the late goal allowed, Kingsburg head coach Scott Hodges said he thought his team “controlled” the game all night.
“This is a division II team, they’re a high level team, I knew it would be tough coming in,” Hodges said. “I felt like we were really pushing on them, I was bummed to give up a late goal, but those are things we could learn from.”
Hodges said his team’s ball movement throughout the game was something that stood out to him.
“I thought our ball movement was exceptional tonight,” Hodges said. “Our aggressiveness on the ball, we came out hungry and it really showed. I was excited about our play tonight.”
In the first four games for Kingsburg, the Vikings fell Clovis West 2-0 in its season opener and went 0-2-1 in the Back Bay Invitational at Newport Harbor High School in Southern California.
In the tourney down south, Kingsburg were outscored 2-6, including a 4-1 loss to Corona Del Mar and 1-0 shutout defeat to Newport Harbor High. The Vikings’ tie came against Mayfair High School, which ended in a 1-1 result.
In the loss to Corona Del Mar, Kingsburg was outscored 3-0 in the second half after the game was tied 1-1 at halftime.
“I thought we really battled well down there,” Hodges said about the Newport Harbor tournament. “We had one tie and two losses, but no one ever talks about the record in our huddle or on our team. The girls, their spirits were high, we felt we played really well down there and just came up short and so this whole preseason is just a time to keep sharpening and getting better.”
The Vikings started Central Sequoia League play at Immanuel on Tuesday (after press time). On Dec. 13, the girls will play a nonleague game at Reedley High before they’ll compete at a tournament at Liberty High School (Bakersfield) on Dec. 14-15.
Kingsburg will continue CSL play against league-newcomer Hanford West on the road on Dec. 17.
Dating back to the 2015-16 season, the Vikings have won 21 straight league games including going 10-0 against CSL opponents in each of the past two seasons.
“League is always the highlight of the year,” Montelongo said. “So that’s what I’m looking forward to.”