Vista soccer team reaches semis with 3-1 win over Livingston

By: Brett Ransford/Telegraph Correspondent
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If a playoff win can be bittersweet, it certainly was for the Eagles.


In possibly her last high school match in the young career of Janae Gonzalez, the sophomore striker’s second goal in the match broke a 1-1 tie in the 73rd minute and led Vista del Lago past visiting Livingston 3-1 in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV girls’ soccer playoffs.


No. 3 seed Vista (12-4-2) will play No. 2 seed Placer (11-9-1) at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15. Match time is subject to change. Placer won its first-round match 5-0 against Dixon.


A few days before taking on Livingston, the Under-17 Mexico Women’s National Team extended an invitation to Gonzalez to train and tryout for the team from Monday, May 13 to Sunday, May 19. The 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup will be played in Costa Rica from March 15 to April 5.


Gonzalez has scored at least 15 of the team’s 43 goals this season. She’s had at least one goal in nine of 13 matches and scored multiple goals six times.


Her decision to travel to Mexico City means she’ll miss the rest of the postseason. Amidst her tears and hugs with teammates, Gonzalez described the opportunity.


“I hate to not be able to finish off the season, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.  Hopefully this won’t be my last high school soccer game, but it might be so it’s really sad,” said Gonzalez.


Chayney Mata assisted Gonzalez in the 28th for the match’s first tally. On the third good chance in five minutes, the Wolves evened things with a rebound off goalkeeper Sarah Hollinghaus in the 71st.


Gonzalez reclaimed the lead and created her team’s impetus, dribbling from midfield around Livingston’s back line and finessing a touch into goal in the 73rd.


Sierra Ciampa fed a corner kick back into the box, to which freshman Caitlin Bader provided the insurance marker with her first varsity playoff goal, scored in the 78th.


Vista put six of 15 shots on frame. Livingston managed four of nine. Hollinghaus earned four saves, a pair in each half. She was confident about heading into the semis.


“We were getting a little too comfortable, but we picked it up and put them away. I thought everyone played great,” said Hollinghaus. “We’ll definitely miss Janae, but I think we’ll be able to handle it.”


Livingston exited in the first round for a third-straight season. Vista advanced to the semi-finals for its third-straight season.


Joe Esfandiary’s chance at repeat section titles in his first two years as Vista’s head coach were strengthened with additions from the JV team.


Mia Yanez, Alicia Riel, Alex Destefano and Mary Meyer were called up. Meyer nearly netted her first varsity playoff goal in the 55th.


“We are definitely going to miss her tremendously, but the rest of this team will step it up and win the game for the team,” said Esfandiary. “We may have to change some things in practices a day or two before the game, but that’s what it’s going to take.”


Goal scoring might not be as big of an issue in games going ahead as it seems on paper. Mata has eight goals and freshman Macey Moen has seven. Six other Eagles have at least one goal.