The Arroyo Grande girls soccer team was lucky to be tied 0-0 with No. 24-ranked Clovis North at halftime. The Eagles had trouble connecting passes in the midfield and the Broncos attacked for the first 40 minutes.
When the second half began, a new Arroyo Grande team showed up.
“We wanted to work better possession play and we started to try that and it paid off,” Arroyo Grande coach Bob Wilson said.
A run up the left side by Eagles sophomore Kiana Quintana drew a foul from a Clovis North defender and set up a free kick for Demi Wack.
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After Wack dumped the ball into the danger zone, it pin-balled around and wound up on the left foot of Elizabeth “Bitty” Eschenbach, who drilled it home for a 1-0 lead.
Wilson said Eschenbach was having trouble breathing due to a cold she hasn’t been able to shake.
“I just wanted to keep playing, I didn’t want to come out,” Eschenbach said after the game in a nasally tone.
“She worked hard,” Wilson said of Bitty. “I think Grace Neff was really making a lot of things happen up there.”
Arroyo Grande’s offensive attack generated four more great chances with crosses into the box in the second half, but weren’t able to get on the end of each pass.
Clovis North (5-1-1) evened the score on a counter attack with about 8:30 to play to secure the tie. The Broncos outshot the Eagles 7-1.
“The fact that we played very poorly in the first half and did not try to string passes together and then took the risk to string passes together in the second half and had success will help our confidence as the season continues,” Wilson said.
Not only did a new team show up for Arroyo Grande in the second half, but to start the season, too. Fifteen players that were on last year’s squad either graduated or decided not to play this season.
“AG is known for winning, so I think we have always had that in our back pocket, but with such a new team this year I think playing a team like Clovis and doing well gives us a lot of confidence,” Eschenbach said.
“It’s cool. A new experience.”
Arroyo Grande’s (2-2-1) next game is against Santa Margarita on Friday.