Sophomore goalkeeper Mireya Lua didn’t blink twice when she saw a potential, game-tying goal bounce in front of her as the final minutes clicked off the scoreboard on the chilly turf on Ed Coats Field Friday night.
Coach Sara Carter’s heart dropped for a split second, along with the largest crowd to see the Orosi High School girls soccer team in action.
In the end, Lua wrapped her legs around the loose ball to preserve a 1-0 win over visiting Sierra Pacific High School.
The victory delivered Orosi the Central Section Division V girls championship, the first-ever in the history of the Tulare County high school.
A goal by junior Mikala Montemayor in the waning minutes of the opening half was all that Orosi needed to close out an undefeated season at 28-0-2. Sierra Pacific ended its season with a 16-6-1 record.
“The shot was coming at me, I blocked it but it went over my head,” said Lua about the last-minute effort by Sierra Pacific to tie the match before a boisterous home crowd that was the largest of the season.
“But, I caught it with my legs,” added Lua. “I kept my cool because if I hadn’t, that ball would have gone in. Everything happened real fast.”
Lua said Sierra Pacific was a tough opponent because the players controlled their passes, although it didn’t get many shots on goal.
Carter said she was blessed to get a young team – three starters are freshmen – but still had to coach to the end against a pesky opponent.
“I expected it to be a close game. We expected to fight all the way to the very end,” said Carter. “On that last shot, my heart dropped and I had to pick it up a little bit. Lua made a great save. I have faith in her.”
Sierra Pacific had few shots on goal, and a second-half goal was waved off by an off-sides call.
Orosi, which is now hoping for an invitation to the state playoffs, went into the season with a Valley championship in mind following a 3-0 loss to Fowler High in last year’s section championship match.
“This is an accomplishment because it’s the first Valley championship for a girls team here,” said Carter. “It will go down in history. It’s great!”
Carter managed to avoid getting soaked by her players who did manage to empty a bucket of water on assistant coach Estevan Díaz.
Montemayor didn’t think twice when she saw a deflected ball rolling in front of her about 20 yards from the net.
“I ran as fast as I could just to get it,” said Montenegro. “It was just instincts.”
Montemayor expected more goal from her team, “but we couldn’t get the ball in the goal.”
While the last two minutes of play seemed forever to her, the season went by in a flash.
“It was an amazing season. It was just amazing playing with these young players,” said Lua. “It’s a really good team. I can’t wait to play with them two more years.”
The 2017-18 season is special, said Lua. “This will always be a memory, but it will always be with me.”
The only blemishes on Orosi’s schedule were ties against Hoover (0-0) and Fowler (2-2).
Orosi High principal Roberto Vaca got cheers when he announced an awards dinner will be held for the team.