Second half deluge drives Willow Canyon’s rainy rout

Willow Canyon's Abbrielle Becerra, left, clears the ball from the Wildcat backfield against Kellis on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 at Raymond S. Kellis High School in Glendale. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]

Richard Smith
West Valley Preps

Under a steady rain at Kellis Tuesday night, Willow Canyon took a 1-0 first half lead but misfired on a couple chances and saw Cougars goalie Olivia Tribbett save a pair of point blank shots.

After halftime, the visiting Wildcats unleashed a downpour on the Cougars’ net. Six Willow Canyon goals piled up and – combined with the field conditions – led to a running clock and the game being called about eight minutes early.

It was the team’s fourth win in six regular season games and now is 6-6 overall and ranked No. 17 in 5A.

“We were playing down to their level and we needed to step up and stop messing around. We weren’t playing up to our potential,” Willow Canyon coach Kendra Melbye said.

Melbye’s team is closer to full strength for the stretch run. Senior midfielder Briauna Nowlin was eligible for the first time.

Her corner kick was headed in by junior midfielder Megan Tracey for the first goal. Then Nowlin scored the team’s third goal in a five-minute burst early in the second half to build the lead to 4-0.

“We should get Haley (Sherwood) back Thursday from concussion protocol. We finally got Briauna in after having to sit for transferring from Shadow (Ridge). This was her first game,” Melbye said.

In between those goals, junior Madison Garcia deposited an arching shot from an extreme angle into the upper left corner of the net. Then Tracey got loose on the right wing and crossed it so well, sophomore Amber Krey only had to knee it in the goal.

As the game slipped away, junior midfielder Olivia De La Torre, freshman defender Lexi Williams and Krey added to the score sheet.

“We’re still needing to work on playing at our speed. I think a lot of times we get caught watching the game and not playing the game. I think it comes in spurts but in the last two games we’ve kind of put it together,” Melbye said.

Meanwhile, Kellis coach Lacey Perdomo said she hopes her team (3-3-3 overall, 2-3-2 regular season) does not lose hope with playoff possibilities vanishing.

She said the rest of the year will be a balance of a send-off for 10 seniors and preparing four sophomores and two freshman for next year  with only two juniors listed on the Cougars’ roster.

“I’m hoping that they maintain their motivation to continue to play. We had a lot of motivation in the beginning and now that we’re settling into a lower ranking, I hope the motivation is there,” Perdomo said. “What we really need is the soccer knowledge to grow. Some of the seniors that have been playing for me on varsity have done a good job. I took a lot of sophomores up from JV to varsity this year.”

The Willow Canyon soccer team celebrates after a goal by Megan Tracey (#13) against Kellis on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 at Raymond S. Kellis High School in Glendale. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]

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