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Varsity Soccer Girls Grab Third In Modesto Christian Tournament
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Trans-Valley League action is scheduled to start for Escalon's soccer program this week, and the girls already have multiple games to their credit. They put together a third place showing at the recent Modesto Christian Tournament and have also taken some victories in non-league play.

"I'm excited about the season," said longtime coach Jamie Peoples. "They are showing steady improvement and they're starting to click, we're moving, passing the ball."

The squad is young, with three freshmen and three sophomores playing at the varsity level in addition to eight juniors and five seniors.

Peoples said the freshmen brought up are more than good athletes; they are players that know the game and have already made an impact.

"They are just great soccer players," she said.

Piper Rockwell, Jackie Valeriano and Jaylyne Serpa are the freshmen that should help the team and provide a solid base for the next few years.

The girls started the season with a Feb. 27 1-1 tie against Bret Harte with senior Taylor Morrow getting the assist and senior Ally Gonzales notching the goal. Junior Leah Martinez had three saves in goal.

At Argonaut on Feb. 28, it was a 3-1 win in a night game and Gonzales had the hat trick, putting in all three tallies for the Lady Cougars. Assists came from junior Carlee Vest, sophomore Haylee Cook and Morrow.

"Logan LaRossa was in goal, she had six saves and she kept us in the game, really turned the momentum around," Peoples said of the sophomore netminder.

Home against Calaveras on March 1, Serpa had the lone goal, unassisted, in a 3-1 loss with LaRossa making two saves in the first half, Martinez stopping four shots in the second.

Then it was off to the Modesto Christian Tournament for games Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with a bye on Thursday.

They opened up with a 3-0 win over Riverbank on Wednesday, two goals from Morrow and one from Serpa.

"Everyone got playing time and all the goals were unassisted," Peoples said, with Martinez in goal for the squad that game.

Friday, they tied Bret Harte 1-1 with four saves from LaRossa, a goal from Rockwell on an assist from Morrow.

Saturday, the girls ended up playing three games, wining two of them.

They shut out Jim Elliott Christian by a 4-0 score with sophomore Alana Kualapai putting in all four goals in an offensive showcase. Morrow, Rockwell (2) and Gonzales had the assists. LaRossa had three saves.

Against Grace Davis, it was a 4-0 loss but the team played well, said Peoples, allowing just one goal in the second half after falling behind 3-0 in the first.

"They are a very good team but we did play well," the coach said.

LaRossa had eight saves.

Next, the team had to face off - for the third time already this season - with Bret Harte in the consolation game.

"We beat them 1-0, we won third place," People said.

Valeriano had the goal and LaRossa made four saves to preserve the shutout.

"Sabrina Luque really stepped up in the tournament and it's nice to have Alana out there," People said, noting that Kualapai is back from an injury last year.

She also pointed to the smart play of Rockwell throughout the preseason as being a bonus.

"I knew she was a good player, but she has just been so solid," Peoples said. "She has been playing center back but she can really play anywhere."

The girls will look to improve on last year's campaign, with some key returners back and a new load of fresh faces, including Martinez, who transferred from Modesto Christian and is a veteran travel ball goalkeeper.

"Last year we went up, leveled off and then kind of let down toward the end of the season," Peoples said. "We want to do better than that."

The JV team this year will be coached by newcomer Chris West, a teacher at El Portal, and the squads will host their Trans-Valley League opener on Thursday, March 15 at 4 p.m., welcoming in the Riverbank Bruins.