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Lady Cougars Booters Prep For Playoff Run
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Battling to a 3-3 tie with Hughson on Wednesday, the Lady Cougar soccer team then went on to shut out Ripon, 2-0, on Friday to assure themselves a spot in the playoffs.

They hosted Hughson in the May 5 contest.

"It was just kind of a heartbreaker for us," coach Craig Humrichouse noted. "If we'd won, we'd be in a three-way tie for first place."

The teams were knotted at 2-2 at the half, Hughson getting a goal in the closing seconds of the first half.

"Their final goal came on a penalty kick on what I felt was a horrible call in the penalty box," admitted the coach.

Scoring for Escalon were Tiana Garcia, off an assist from Ashley Brown; Brown off an assist from Cherie Homen; and Kacey Ball unassisted.

"The shot she took was basically from the center line, the goalie was out of the box and she sent it in from 45 yards out, put it in the net over the goalie's head," Humrichouse said of Ball's tally.

Back in goal for the Lady Cougars was Natalie "Noodle" Gallego, sporting some new headgear and a new nickname. She wore a protective hockey-style facemask due to having her nose broken in the Hilmar game on April 28 and was immediately dubbed "Jason" by her teammates.

"She had five saves in goal, she bounced back and played very well, the team responded to her return," Humrichouse pointed out. "The tie put us into the playoffs, we'll go as the number three seed from the Trans-Valley League."

Brought up from the JV team for the contest was Kristine Lima.

"She played very well and had a hand in the goal that Ashley scored," Humrichouse said.

Back on the home field for their final game at home during the regular season, balloons adorned the stands for the senior girls and they treated the crowd to a 2-0 win over Ripon.

"We played very well, we dominated the first half and then the second half was evenly played," said Humrichouse.

Both Lady Cougar goals came in the first half, with Brown scoring off an assist from Severa Salazar and Homen scoring off an assist from Kaity Bojorquez.

Gallego was solid in goal, charging out to defend and denying all shots taken by the Ripon squad, making five saves and not showing any lingering effects from the injury.

"She's an athlete, she's a trouper, she does what needs to be done," agreed Humrichouse. "It was just a well-played match and the girls got another shutout."

Only one official was there to call the game, Humrichouse said, making it harder for both teams.

Heading into their final regular season game, slated after The Times went to press (Tuesday, May 11) at Livingston, the girls held a 10-2-1 mark in league play.

"We'll go to play Summerville in the first round of the playoffs," said Humrichouse. "That game will be Tuesday, May 18 at 3:30 p.m."

On the JV side, the girls took a tough 2-1 loss off the field against Hughson, then rebounded with a shutout win of their own, 1-0, defeating Ripon in the home finale on Friday.