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Winning Ways: Varsity Soccer Atop TVL Standings
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Escalons Piper Rockwell, left, takes the ball past Riverbanks Daeyshya Battle. IKE DODSON/THE TIMES

With a 5-1 win over Riverbank and a 3-1 victory at Ripon, the Escalon varsity soccer girls are zeroing in on postseason play. They improved to a 7-1 mark, tops in the league, with the twin wins.

Home to host Riverbank on Wednesday, April 10, the girls came out strong with four goals in the first half and added another in the second to nail down a decisive victory.

“This was a lot different than the last time we played them, when we won with a goal in the last minute,” said coach Jamie Peoples. “This was a really good game, this team has definitely improved, they have made huge progress.”

Peoples said a switch from playing a 4-4-2 alignment during the pre-season and the first round in league to now a 4-3-3 has seemed to make a big difference.

“That’s definitely the system for the girls we have this year,” she said of the 4-3-3, which evens out the midfield and the defensive alignment.

In the Riverbank game, Sage Gabba netted a pair of goals, now at outside halfback and finding the net.

“She’s one of those kids that works really hard and she finally got a couple in,” Peoples said.

Alana Kualapai has also come on strong recently, scoring three goals against the visiting Lady Bruins.

Assists came from Leslie Garcia, Jackie Valeriano, Jaylyne Serpa, Natalia Hernandez and Alana Kualapai, with one each.

“We were up 4-1 at the half,” Peoples said. “Leah (Martinez) had three saves in the first half, Logan (LaRossa) had five saves in the second.”

Friday, the girls traveled to Ripon, avenging an earlier season loss.

“They were the only (TVL) team we hadn’t beaten this season,” said Peoples. “We won 3-1, it was 2-1 at the half and Alana got the hat trick, three more goals, she’s really getting into the groove.”

LaRossa played the entire game in goal and notched 10 saves, doing “an amazing job,” said Peoples.

Martinez had gotten hurt, striking her hand on the post as she dove to make a save against Riverbank, and Peoples said while she probably could have gone on Friday, she didn’t want to risk aggravating the injury to the keeper.

Great efforts from Kualapai, LaRossa and Haylee Cook were key to this game, as were assists from Piper Rockwell, Carlee Vest and Valeriano.

“Not everyone got to play this game, I was able to sub a lot in Riverbank, but even the girls on the bench were focused on the (Ripon) game, cheering the team on,” said Peoples.

Escalon plays at Orestimba today, Wednesday, and hosts Hughson on Friday, April 19.

The JV girls, meanwhile, were 4-1 winners over Riverbank but took a tough 2-1 loss to Ripon, with Lindsey Miranda scoring and Promise Saavedra getting the assist. Goalie Bonnie Head also made 13 saves against Ripon, keeping her team in the game.