Lady Highlanders continue climb with road win at Fullerton
Story and photos by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal
Sometimes it takes a little momentum before everything starts clicking. Thursday afternoon in Fullerton, everything began clicking again for the Lady Highlanders, who earned a 3-1 win over the Lady Indians.
If La Habra’s loss to Sonora last Thursday was its wake-up call, then consider the Lady Highlanders’ big win against Buena Park on Tuesday the confidence boost to get everything right against Fullerton.
The Lady Highlanders could have given up when a ball slipped through the legs of keeper Avery Barboza, however Brooke Mays took leadership and kept La Habra in the driver’s seat.
“Brooke is our leader, especially offensively, when she doesn’t play well, we don’t create as much,” said Matt Sanger, La Habra head coach. “This last week or so, I have been challenging her that she’s got to step up her game … It’s just her realizing her importance, stepping up and playing a good game because we rely on her.”
In the 36th minute, just 4 minutes after Fullerton (6-9-3, 1-4-1) evened the score, La Habra responded, regaining the lead and momentum.
Tied 1-1, Mays received a through ball into the box. With defenders closing in on her, she dribbled the ball deep inside the Lady Indians’ zone holding off two defenders.
She patiently waited for help, before she sent a through ball across the box for Noemi De Santiago who tapped in the goal for the lead.
“The passing for the second goal was great, everyone was open, everyone was moving,” Mays said. “I think we are getting into a rhythm.”
The Lady Highlanders (9-7-2, 3-3-0) stumbled into this week having dropped three straight against Troy, Sunny Hills, and Sonora.
“The girls stopped working hard,” Sanger said. “The culture in our program had become negative, girls were getting down on themselves.”
Sanger picked up his first loss against Sonora since his entry to the program, and was motivated to supercharge his team.
“We had three or four hell days, where they just ran for a few hours,” Sanger said. “What I wanted to see was positivity come out. When they are at their worst moments of running, after two hours of just pure sprinting, I saw teamwork. I saw them start to cheer each other on and get through these things together. We started working as a team and the last two games we played as a team.”
Earlier in the week the Highlanders visited Buena Park and put their season back on track with a 7-1 win, which served as a morale boost and included four goals from Mays.
“Considering I didn’t score against Sunny Hills, Troy, or Sonora I was kind of due, so I thought I’d take advantage of it while I had the chance,” Mays said.
Challenges lie ahead for the Lady Highlanders, who visit Sunny Hills and welcome Troy next week.
“We need to be defensively disciplined,” Sanger said. “We need to pray, because we are missing some of our main players.”
The Highlanders will look to continue to put pressure on their offense but remain committed to defense.
“We’re not just going to sit back, we are going to try and play soccer,” Sanger said. “If we give up a few goals playing good soccer it will happen.”