New year, same close rivalry.
In their first girls soccer meeting of the season, Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo high schools battled to a scoreless tie after two overtimes Wednesday night.
“We knew coming into this game that it was going to be a tight affair,” Tigers coach John Clarke said. “For us right here, a tie at their house is not a bad result.
“I think if one of the teams lost tonight, it would’ve been hard-felt,” Clarke said, “because I think both teams put in a great effort.”
Playing at home at Doug Hitchen Stadium, Mikayla Allen had to make just two saves in goal for the Eagles (7-1-3, 2-1-1).
Lauren Harper, meanwhile, had 14 saves for the Tigers (8-4-3, 2-0-1).
“She did a great job,” Eagles coach Laurie Owens said of Harper.
The Eagles dominated possession in the first half, despite having little to show for it on the scoreboard, although matters evened out somewhat after the break.
The rematch will be Feb. 4 at Holt Field.
Arroyo Grande opened league play with a 3-2 loss against Righetti, which last year beat the Eagles in the regular-season finale to force a share of the PAC 7 title between those two, with San Luis Obispo in third.
“In order for Righetti to put three goals against this team right here, Righetti’s got to be doing something right, for sure,” Clarke said, “because these guys are very good defensively.”
Arroyo Grande finished last season 22-5, falling 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 playoffs to a Corona Santiago team that concluded the year ranked 37th nationally by ESPN.
The Eagles returned two star midfielders from that team in Kate Reinhardt, a reigning all-divisional first-team honoree, and Jenna Harshbarger, who was chosen to the third team.
“We’re right there,” Owens said of possibly repeating as a PAC 7 champion. “These girls have tons of heart, so I know they’re going to fight for it.”
Similarly, San Luis Obispo is also looking for a successful follow-up to its historic 23-4-2 run from a year ago, when the Tigers advanced to the divisional semifinals for the first time ever.
A handful of key seniors were lost from that team, including forwards Kiele Argente (now playing at UC Davis) and Alessa Moscoso (Harvard), as well as defender Shannon Fontes (Cal State East Bay).
Brady Candaele, an all-divisional third-team choice a year ago, has been a leader for the Tigers’ offense thus far.
Just like last year, the PAC 7 is expected to be well-represented come playoff time.
“There’s no tougher league in Division 3,” Clarke said. “We could take the top four teams to Southern California and play in any league down there, and I know that the top four teams here would do well. No doubt about it.”