Juliana Rodriguez’s “mistake” gave Sierra the breathing room it was looking for during its 4-1 win over visiting Kimball on Friday.
The sophomore midfielder set up for the corner kick with the Timberwolves leading by a goal in the 67th minute of this compelling Valley Oak League matchup at Daniel Teicheira Memorial Stadium. She intended to drop the right-footed in-swinger into the other end of the goal box for a teammate to knock it in.
“I tried to get it over there and then I saw it going in,” Rodriguez said. “I was like, ‘Oh.’”
Her cross curled over the reach of Jaguars goalkeeper Jordan Claire and into the upper-right corner of the frame, highlighting a second-half surge that carried Sierra (7-0 VOL, 17-1 overall) to its 10th straight win. She was one of four different Timberwolves to find the net.
“Jules has the ability to hit that,” Sierra coach Manuel Pires said. “At 2-1 the game is still wide open. That goal pretty much took them out of the game.”
Kimball (5-2-1, 11-7-1) once again made it challenging for the reigning league champion, though the final result may indicate otherwise. Sierra had trouble putting the Jaguars away in their first meeting of the season, a 1-0 win for the Timberwolves on Dec. 18.
“Their defense is pretty strong, and they really held the center well,” Rodriguez said.
Kimball, led by midfielder Danya Gonzalez, got the Timberwolves’ attention early in the second go-around, scoring in the seventh minute on a breakaway. Mariya Hinojosa led the counter-attack but had her initial shot blocked by Sierra keeper Michaela Bitle. Charlize Castro followed it up for the uncontested finish.
The Jags had a chance to double the lead in the 26th minute, but Hinojosa’s straightaway attempt was crushed over the crossbar.
“We needed to step up our game to secure that win,” Sierra striker Jenna Villanueva said. “Turn up the heat.”
She and the T’wolves answered with the equalizer a minute later, nearly mirroring Kimball’s scoring sequence earlier in the match.
Speedy sophomore midfielder Preeya Singh broke away up the middle and dished it to an open Tiana Cello for a 1-on-1 opportunity. The Kimball netminder redirected the shot, but Villanueva was there to clean it up.
“I saw Tia making the run on the side,” Villanueva said. “I felt she was going to have it, but just in case the keeper was going to ricochet it off, and she did, I was going to be there and follow it up with power.”
Villanueva later assisted Cello’s go-ahead goal in the 56th minute on another breakaway. Rebecca Sutton added the final score in the 73rd, landing the final blow in what was a mostly-competitive encounter.
“They have a pretty good team and they compete very well,” Pires said. “This is one of those hard games that we knew was coming and we had to focus on getting the three points.”
Sierra 1, Kimball 0
Larissa Phillips booted the deciding goal late in the game, receiving a short pass from Lela Schuler at the top of the penalty box.