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Soccer Wins Over Hughson, MC Have Escalon Rolling
Getting a chance to play at home for the first time in several games, the Escalon varsity soccer girls made the most of their return, topping Hughson and Modesto Christian in recent Trans-Valley League play.

"We're on a roll, doing well," said a pleased coach Jamie Peoples following Wednesday's 5-0 shutout of Modesto Christian. That came on the heels of a well-played, hard fought 2-1 win on Monday, May 3 against Hughson.

"Monday was a really hot day, a good battle and I was really proud of them," Peoples said of her team.

Taking a 1-0 lead at the half, the girls out dueled a determined Hughson squad, coming away with the 2-1 victory. Goals from Gabby Gomez and Alondra Munoz lifted the varsity girls to the win, with assists from Melanie Winkler and Taylor Morrow.

Katie San Julian turned away seven Hughson shots on goal during the contest.

"Just all the way around, everyone played well," the coach added.

On Wednesday, the girls faced off with Modesto Christian, a team that has had a season marked with multiple ties and a few losses.

They got one more in the loss column, as the Lady Cougar offense found ways to dismantle the MC defense, working the ball around and getting the shots to the net.

Peoples said while it was a 3-0 lead at the half, she had her team pull back after they made it 5-0.

Visiting MC started with 11 players but took a couple of injuries and basically had eight on the field for much of the second half, Peoples said.

"We didn't try to run the score up," the coach said. "If we had the same situation, we would want someone to take mercy on us. Modesto Christian has just really struggled this season."

For Escalon, the highlight of the game was a late first half goal scored by back up goalie Autumn Andersen, who was in the right place at the right time, getting the ball past the young MC keeper, who came out early to challenge.

As Andersen's goal trickled in across the line, players on the field and on the bench erupted in cheers for her.

"She's someone who works really hard, she doesn't get to see the field too much as back up," Peoples said of Andersen's somewhat limited playing time with San Julian starting in net.

But she seized her opportunity to contribute while playing on the offensive side of the field, scoring the first goal of her high school career.

Ally Gonzales netted a hat trick, putting three goals in, and Melanie Winkler netted the other and had a couple of other solid shots on net blocked. Gonzales and Winkler each had an assist as well.

Peoples pointed to the emergence of Winkler this season as a driving force for the team's success.

"She's a team captain and one of our leading scorers, just our overall leader," Peoples said. "There's not a girl that works harder."

Wednesday was also Senior Day and included recognition for the eight seniors on the team. Six of them are starters and the seniors played for the bulk of the 80 minutes. San Julian had three saves in goal in the first half, Andersen had three saves in the second half for the combined shutout.

The team had a celebratory barbecue after the game to honor the seniors and closed the week knowing they had clinched the number two seed in the Trans-Valley League. Only TVL champ Ripon had a better league mark than Escalon. The girls were slated to finish the league campaign hosting Ripon at home on Monday, May 10 after The Times went to press. Escalon was 11-3 headed into the game.

The number two seed will put Escalon into the playoffs against the Mother Lode League top seed, either Linden or Summerville. Though the Lady Cougars will have to go on the road for that opening round contest, Peoples said the girls have earned the right to play in the 'second season.'

"There has been a huge, huge improvement from the start of the year," Peoples said of her team. "This group of girls, they're a dream come true. There's no drama ... they just play well. I'm really happy with the way this team has played."