Pacific Palisades, Calif. – The Pali Blues defeated the Victoria Highlanders on a chilly night at Palisades High School with goals from Tiffany McCarty and Anisa Guajardo. The Highlanders were able to score their first goal of the season later in the game.
From the start, Pali was a threat to the Highlanders. Two corner kicks in the first 15 minutes almost turned into goals for the Blues, but they would have to wait a little longer for the first goal.
In the 29th minute, Guajardo sent McCarty on a breakaway. McCarty went one-on-one with Highlanders goalkeeper Stephanie Parker, and took a left-footed shot around her to put the Blues up one.
“I believe Anisa had the ball a little bit behind the half line, and I made a diagonal run and she slipped me in. I just took a couple touches, and I toe-poked it with my left foot into the left corner,” McCarty described the goal.
This match was played at a higher pace than the first match against the LA Strikers, which Guajardo said was due to more practice time with the team and continuing to learn to play as a team.
McCarty also agreed that the game was played with more speed than the first. “It was a pretty high-intensity game. We were more aggressive in the first half, they were more aggressive in the second, but all in all, I think it was a very good game,” she said.
The Blues’ defenders were effectively involved in the attack. Elizabeth Eddy and Cortni Joyner got a few good looks throughout the match. One of Eddy’s runs up the field almost gave the Blues a two-goal advantage in the 22nd minute when she took a shoot from outside the box that went just wide of the goal.
In the 34th minute, the Blues had a chance to double the lead with a corner kick. Molly Kruger served a perfect cross to Captain Christie Shaner who out-jumped everyone, but her header went a few inches over the crossbar.
Guajardo had the next significant chances of the game for the Blues taking a shot right at the ‘keeper, and then another that went just over the bar before halftime.
The Blues came out hungry for a goal in the second half. Just 5 minutes into it, Guajardo flicked a ball played in by Joyner, but it fell into the keeper’s gloves.
A few minutes later, Guajardo’s effort finally paid off. She dribbled the ball up the field for about 25 yards, and then unleashed a shot that beat Parker to the goal to give the Blues a 2-0 lead.
“I got a really well-played ball from the midfielders. I went at (a player on the other team), and then pushed (the ball) to the side with my left foot. Then I saw an opening and decided to crack it and see what happens,” she said about the goal.
A few minutes later, Victoria got one back. Elizabeth Hansen was found all alone in the box. With all the space she had, she took her time in unleashing a rocket past Blues goalkeeper, Anna Picarelli.
Towards the end of the match, things got a little hectic for Pali and they almost scored on themselves. A ball was played into the box, and Joyner passed it to the midfield. A Blues player was running onto it and took a bad touch that forced Picarelli to deflect the ball away for a corner kick.
The Blues pushed for another goal as the Highlanders seemed to be gaining momentum towards the end of the match. Joyner ran onto a loose ball from the top of the box. She took a touch to settle it and then shot just wide of the goal. On the other end, Picarelli made a huge save to help her team preserve the win.
Guajardo compared this match the first match of the season.
“I think we possessed a lot better,” she said.” We controlled the game, we were more confident with our game, especially in the last few seconds when things got a little crazy. But we looked good passing the ball around, dinking it around. A goal was inevitable, I think.
Head coach Jacob Tudela enjoyed seeing the Blues possess the ball better and getting everyone involved in the attack.
“I think that the girls came out and played exactly the way we wanted them to play,” he said. We created opportunities; I don’t think (Victoria) had a shot until their goal, and I’m very proud of the girls.
“I think that we definitely improved in a lot of ways (since the first game against the LA Strikers). I think that our defense was much more as one unit, and I think that we were attacking more as a team. We were getting everyone involved, and the possession was much better.”
The Pali Blues have yet another match at home next week against Santa Clarita Blue Heat. The match kicks off on Thursday, May 26 at 7 p.m. PT at Palisades High School. For tickets click here or call 310-264-4649.