Capuchino holds off Colts

Nathan Mollat / Daily Journal Capuchino's Stephanie Vaquerano goes to her knee as she gets a shot off during the Mustangs' 2-1 win over third-place El Camino in a key PAL Ocean Division battle. Vaquerano scored once and had several other near misses in the win.

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FEB 2, 2011 — Soccer coaches will tell you that a 2-0 lead is the most dangerous score in the game. It seems like a big lead, but one goal by the trailing team means it's suddenly back in the game.

The first-place Capuchino girls' soccer team scored two first-half goals -- and missed several other golden scoring opportunities -- in a key Peninsula Athletic League matchup against third-place El Camino. The Mustangs dominated the first half so decisively, it felt like their lead was actually doubled.

El Camino, relieved to be down only two, came out looking like a different team in the second half. The Colts pulled back one of the goals 20 minutes into the second half, but could not find the equalizer as Capuchino held on for a 2-1 win.

"We dominated them the first 20 minutes. We had three, four breakaways we missed," said Capuchino coach Rich Medina. "This game should have over in the first 20 minutes."

El Camino coach Imelda Winkelbauer said the Colts, near the bottom of the Ocean Division standings for years, may have been a bit intimidated in the first half, knowing they had a chance to pull into a first-place tie with a win.

"The first half, we were playing the first-place team and [we] were frustrated with small errors," Winkelbauer said. "El Camino has never been considered a serious team. ... They're capable of doing so much, so they do feel the pressure."

Capuchino (8-1-0 PAL Ocean, 24 points) wasted little time in going on the attack. The Mustangs had five quality shots on goal in the opening six minutes and led 1-0 after just two minutes of play. Capuchino had the Colts pinned deep in their own end and earned a throw-in. El Camino could not clear the ball out of its defensive end. The ball ended up on the foot of Capuchino's Melanie Medina, who slotted a diagonal pass to Stephanie Vaquerano, who ran onto the ball and fired a shot inside the near post for a surprising 1-0 lead.

The rest of the first half was basically Capuchino's Vaquerano and Allyn Benintendi taking turns on fast breaks as, time and again, the Mustangs exploited El Camino's offside trap.

The one thing missing for the Mustangs, however, was the finishing touch. Vaquerano had a shot on one of her breakaways hit the post. She also fanned on a shot attempt on a cross from Benintendi. The two reversed roles later in the first half as Benintendi headed a ball wide on a perfect Vaquerano cross.

Benintendi finally converted in the 30th minute to put the Mustangs up 2-0. The play was started by Vaquerano, who blew by her defender and ran onto a long ball over the top of the El Camino defense. As Vaquerano cut in toward the goal, her shot was blocked by the El Camino goalkeeper. She couldn't control it, however, and the rebound rolled out to Benintendi, who was stationed at the top of the El Camino penalty box. As the defense closed on her, Benintendi calmly side footed a shot into the net.

"We had so many chances (in the first half)," said Vaquerano.

And yet at halftime, the Mustangs were only ahead 2-0.

"[El Camino must have been thinking] 'Only two-nothing? Wow!" Vaquerano said.

There was a glimpse of what was to come in the second half just before the halftime whistle as El Camino (6-3-0, 18 points) just missed cutting the lead in half. Capuchino's inability to clear the ball out of danger resulted in the ball landing at the foot of El Camino's Amanda Cotla, who had no one but the goalkeeper to beat. In her haste, however, she shot the ball right to the Capuchino netminder.

That play, however, appeared to jump start the Colts, who began the second half with extreme pressure on the Capuchino defense. The Colts had a number of close chances go by the wayside in the opening minutes of the second half, before they scored halfway through the second half. Capuchino made the mistake of not clearing the ball away and this time the Colts made the Mustangs pay. A clearing attempt was intercepted by El Camino's Bianca Cerna about 25 yards from goal. She put a shot on frame that clanged off the crossbar -- and right to Cerna, who calmly nodded the ball into the empty net.

Conversely, all the open space the Mustangs had in the first half disappeared in the second as the El Camino defense tightened up and limited the Mustangs' chances. El Camino kept pushing the rest of the half, but did not have many more scoring opportunities the rest of the game.

"The second half we laid back too much," Vaquerano said.

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