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KINGSBURG - Behind seven goals from Claire Machado, Selma (12-5, 5-0 CSL) retained the top spot in the Central Sequoia League standings with a 9-7 win over rival Kingsburg (18-4, 3-2 CSL) at the Crandell Swim Complex on Thursday.

The Bears held the lead from the second through fourth quarters. In that span, Selma outscored Kingsburg 7-4. The Vikings led twice in the first quarter, the first lead being 2-0 and the second being a 3-2 advantage at the end of the period.

“The game plan was to start out harder than the last time we did,” Selma’s Claire Machado said. “Go out and get it and put it away at the beginning because last time we had to fight for it at the end. We wanted to get out there and have hard shots all the way.”

Machado scored the Bears first seven goals of the game and her scoring spree started in the first quarter after the Vikings took a 2-0 lead. Machado put the Bears on the board twice to tie the game, but the Vikings gained its final lead of the game with a Shay Hanson goal with 58 seconds left in the quarter.

Machado continued to put Selma on the board, scoring all of the Bears goals in the second quarter. The senior scored three consecutive times to give her team a 5-3 lead and ended the first half by scoring her sixth goal of the game with five seconds left. Machado's sixth goal put Selma up 6-4 at halftime.

“Claire just went nuts this year and today,” Selma coach Harold Wood said. “She couldn’t miss. Man, seven goals, you love that.”

Machado scored her final goal of the game early in the third quarter to extend the Bears lead to 7-4. After, Kingsburg’s Mirjana Quattrin cut Selma’s lead to two goals, but Selma continued to control the game with an Abi Baker score to make it a three-point game. The Bears ended the quarter with a 8-5 lead.

The Vikings tried to climb back into the game by shutting out Machado and coming within two scores with 2:17 left, but Kingsburg couldn’t find the net for the rest of the game. Julianna Colado scored Selma’s final goal of the game, which at the time extended the Bears’ lead 9-5.

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“Their No. 4 [Machado] is a good player and she was posting up a lot,” Kingsburg coach Tris Abell saidn about Machado. “As soon as we recognize that, it kind of changed their offense in the last quarter and a half and it was just a little bit too late.”

Sofia Righetti and Megan Buendia each scored two twice for Kingsburg while Shay Hanson, Quattrin, and Audrena Butts each contributed with a goal.

After being swept in the series, there’s a chance that the two rivals would meet in the Central Section Division II playoffs, which is something the Vikings would look forward to.

“Now that league is kind of out of the question, we’re really going to start focusing on Valley and we probably will see Selma again for that because we got moved up to Division II,” Righetti said. “We’re going to work even harder and try to perfect our offense and get really a lot more comfortable with plays we’re making.”

The Vikings last played Exeter on Monday (after press time) and will conclude the regular season in a home game against Dinuba on Oct. 28.

“We tried switch up our offense a little bit and I think we didn’t have enough as much practice switching that up as we should have before this game,” Abell said. “Using those next few games to practice and implement that new offense, so that when we get into the playoffs, it’s ingrained in them and they’ll know how to do it and space out. That’s going to be our biggest thing and working on our man-down defense.”

The Bears remain undefeated in CSL play and control their own destiny of accomplishing a second consecutive league title. The Bears have three CSL games remaining to clinch the title. Selma will play at Dinuba today, followed by a road date with Hanford West on Thursday and a home game against Exeter in the regular season finale on Oct. 29.

After defeating Kingsburg, Selma hosted a tournament on Friday and Saturday, finishing with a record of 1-3 with its only victory coming against Sierra Pacific in a 15-7 final. The Bears fell to Madera, who eventually won the tournament, followed by losses to Monache (11-6 final) and Reedley (11-8).

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The reporter can be reached at 559-583-2413 or jmartinez@hanfordsentinel.com

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