Although Calaveras dictated the pace of the game in the opening period, Sonora drew first blood on a fantastic shot in the 15th minute.
After a Wildcat was fouled in the attacking third, Sonora forward Taylor Beebe lined up to take a free kick from 30 yards out. The senior squarely rocketed the blast around Calaveras’ wall of defenders and her shot sailed over the outstretched arms of Redskins goalkeeper Gabby Krigbaum and into right corner of the box.
That goal by Beebe marked the first time in her high school career that she scored on a free kick.
“You know right when it comes off your foot that it’s going in,” Beebe said. “That was just a loft ball. Just hit it right over. It was a good lean-back and send it. It was a great ball. It had the perfect pace. It had the perfect spin. It’s a good feeling. There’s the pretty balls and the bad balls. That was the pretty ball.”
Beebe’s splendid goal gave Sonora an early 1-0 lead despite the Wildcats suiting up just 13 players due to injuries.
“The shot went right in the corner,” said Sonora first-year head coach Diego Velazquez. “That was beautifully placed. It was beautifully executed. It was the perfect free kick.”
In the second half, Sonora’s lack of substitutions caught up to the tiring Wildcats, and Calaveras pounced on that weakness.
“We played hard,” Beebe said. “Both teams played really hard. It was an even match. We got a little tired in the second half, but that’s something that we’re working on. It was a great pre-season game. They’re a good competitor.”
The Redskins finally cracked a tough Wildcat defensive backline in the 49th minute on Deckman’s equalizer from distance.
“I have a big foot,” Deckman said. “If I don’t really shoot up close, I’m told to shoot far back, usually like the 20 yards, but I didn’t think it was going in. It had like a curve on it. I thought it was going wide. I was shocked, but really happy.”
Then in the 62nd minute, forward Rosalva Meza fed an unmarked Deckman near the top of the box on a set piece and the sophomore buried the game-winning strike.
“That was a big relief,” Leetham said. “Every time you get a lead, it’s a big relief since we were down at halftime. I’m just proud of the girls. We have had a lot of injuries on the team. It’s been tough to keep everybody together and put a strong team out there, but everyone of those girls tonight fought hard and played well.”
Eight minutes later, Meza’s outstanding vision of the field led to another prime opportunity.
Meza sent in a cross and forward Breanna Brumet tapped it past Sonora goalie Bethany Smith for the insurance goal.
“That was a big goal for her because she’s a natural scorer,” Leetham said of Brumet. “She’s been in a little bit of a slump lately. She and I talked before the game about her owning the field. I was proud of her to be down there in that position and to knock the ball in. Hopefully, that unleashes her for the rest of the season.”
Sonora had a chance to cut the score to one, but the Wildcats’ penalty kick in the 73rd minute flew a foot over the top post. Smith, a senior, recorded a game-high 12 saves.
“Bethany Smith is doing a great job in goal,” Velazquez said. “It’s her first year playing varsity. That’s a tough position to be in. They scored three goals, but she had a lot of saves. That’s huge for a goalie.”
Although Calaveras outshot Sonora 17-3, including 11 in the second half, Velazquez sees the progression his team is making.
“Overall, everything was positive,” Velazquez said. “I like the way that we played. We’re playing hard and we’re going into a tough, tough league with a very, very tight squad. But we’re gonna learn and that’s what we’re going to try to do — is learn and keep going.
The Wildcats and Redskins (2-1) both open Valley Oak and Mother Lode League play on Thursday, respectively.
Sonora hosts Weston Ranch at Dunlavy Field at 6:30 p.m., and Calaveras travels to face Amador at 7 p.m. in Sutter Creek.
“Our preseason is over and now we start league Thursday against Amador, one of our arch rivals,” Leetham said. “We’re hoping our sweeper Savannah McIntosh isn’t too banged up after going down with a knee injury, but we just have to carry on. We have had a lot of injuries and we just got to keep pushing through them.”