Anna’s Lady Coyotes opened their season - and new head coach Marlon Madrigal’s tenure - on Friday with two wins at the weather-curtailed Community High School soccer tournament. In the opener, senior Lady Coyotes forward Kaitlynn Perry scored all three goals in a 3-0 shutout of Madrigal’s former team, Bonham. On Friday evening, Anna outlasted Community, 4-3, on penalty kicks after the teams had clawed to a scoreless tie.
Due to cold, wet conditions on Thursday, first-day matches were moved to Friday and Day 2 matches were canceled.
The Lady Coyotes’ Friday afternoon contest with Bonham was played under sun-splashed blue skies with temps in the mid-50s. Less than two minutes into the match Perry struck for the first time, taking a pass from Lauren Schlicht down the left side then driving 20 yards before firing a crossing shot to the right side of the net. Then with 28:45 left in the period, Perry grabbed Krista Valdez’ assist pass down the middle, took it right, then sent the ball back left into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Perry’s third score came five minutes into the second half with an assist from Priscilla Chacon in the left corner. Perry took the well-placed pass to front of the net and popped it home.
“Surprisingly, the goalie came out too much, in my opinion,” Perry said of her first two goals. “But it was cool because I just cut around her and scored. I like doing that quite a bit. I don’t get much opportunity to do that.”
“She’s our weapon,” Madrigal said of Perry’s hat-trick. “We’re going to go through her most of the time.” Noting the valuable assists as well, Madrigal added, “It’s working the way it’s supposed to.”
Madrigal said his team looked “a little rusty” after the holiday break. “I think the effort was there but we haven’t been practicing so we’ve got to build it back up.” In particular, Madrigal noted, “We didn’t do a great job passing today.”
Two Anna goalkeepers saw extensive action versus the Lady Warriors: Payton Wickliffe in the first half, Trinity Gonzales in the second. “Payton had two really important saves,” Madrigal said. “They were great saves. And Trinity did her job, she also got a couple of saves. They were both solid in the back. I can’t ask for more right now.”
The Lady Warriors’ best chance to score before the break came with 6:50 left to play — but Wickliffe nabbed that close-range try to the left side of the goal. Gonzales’ big save on a point-blank shot in front of the net preserved the shutout with 1:15 left to play.
Said Perry, “Offensively, I thought we did pretty good. We could have connected way more. But we did well, obviously, because we won. There’s always room for improvement.”
Schlicht was knocked hard to the turf at least three times during the match, with nary a whistle blown. (Ironically, when a Lady Warrior went down after contact with Schlicht, Schlicht was quickly warned by a referee then yellow-carded, evidently for commenting on the situation.)
“I hit the ground too many times to remember,” Schlicht smiled, sporting a nice strawberry on her right knee. “It started off in the first five minutes of the game. I kicked the ball and a girl just body-slammed into me. It kind of went downhill from there.” Schlicht said she was OK, with only some “bumps and bruises.”
As for Anna’s overall play, Schlicht said, “We need to communicate a lot more. Our offense did good connecting but we could’ve had way more opportunities if we would’ve connected more. … Our defense needs to work on watching the down-the-line balls. [Bonham] played those channels a lot and our outside defenders need to be able to pick up on that and cut the runoff early.”
Of course, Madrigal was asked what it meant to beat his former team in his first outing as Anna head coach. “It was bittersweet,” he said. “They looked really good, to be honest with you. They’ve improved and I’m happy for them. My team did what they needed to do. I wish the best for those girls — just not during my games.”
In the Lady Coyotes’ win over Community, Wickliffe went the whole way in net as Anna again allowed no goals. Wickliffe posted six saves in regulation and added two more during the PK shootout. Anna needed all six shooters for its 4-3 win in that extra period, as the Lady Coyotes missed two kicks and Community missed three. Schlicht, Perry, Valdez and Addy Schofield booted home Anna’s necessary kicks.