QUINCY — The crosswind was blowing so hard a ball in the air would move five, six yards. And anything in the box thrown up waist-high to the crossbar was a goalkeeper’s nightmare during Tuesday night’s wind-blown Central Washington Athletic Conference girls soccer match at Quincy.
Quincy goalkeeper Zayuri Arizmendi had a tough time handling the ball in the air on a corner kick in traffic and Courtney Richardson scored with a Lynette Sanchez assist to give Ephrata the early lead.
Tigers senior Mya Spencer made it a two-goal difference in the 32nd minute and Ephrata (9-2, 3-0 CWAC) rolled to a 4-nil victory on the road. The Jacks (5-3-1, 2-1) are a much-improved program and the loss was their first in the conference.
“We knew they were going to be a tough opponent. The first two they earned, the second-half goals were deflections, but at the end of the day, it’s whoever puts the ball in the back of the net that wins,” first-year Jacks coach Francisco Tafoya said. “At halftime we pretty much said we got to go. We have to win the 50-50 balls and see if we can’t make something happen.
“We were playing against the wind in the second half, but the idea was to force the issue.”
The Quincy midfield held its own, taking some of the pressure off the defense as the Tigers pressed with a new three-striker alignment this season. The Ephrata forwards are able to do a little more give-and-go up top to free up shot opportunities. But the Jacks defenders held up well despite giving up two goals in each half.
“There’s definitely more offensive possibilities with three players up top,” Spencer said. “I thought we played hard at the midfield, the forwards on the side were able to come back and help out.
“But we have good speed on the wings and that makes the transition go well.”
The wind factored into the second-half goals. Alexis Blancas was credited with the third goal of the night, but it was more of an own goal as the Jacks’ defense tried to clear a ball that bounced free in front of the net on a corner kick.
The final score came when Arizmendi lost track of a ball moving around in the air off the corner and tipped it in as she tried to corral the ball off the foot of Kendall Kemp.
“I think we kept our composure playing in the wind with possession play. We did exactly what we wanted to do, not play rushed or out-of-control,” Ephrata coach Hillary Coomes said. “With the wind, you want to make sure the ball’s on the ground and keeping it low.
“We’re feeling really good with the possession play up top this year. It’s a new formation and Alexis is playing well. With the midfield playing the way they are, we’re able to overlap more on the transition pass and get things going a lot quicker.”
All in all, the Tigers stayed in the hunt with the win. Grandview (4-5, 3-0) has five loses on the season, but remains on top of the CWAC with a 3-0 victory over Wapato. The Jacks stay in the playoff hunt.
Ephrata travels to East Valley (4-5, 1-1) and Quincy heads to Grandview on Thursday.
Ephrata 2 2 - 4
Quincy 0 0 - 0
E - Courtney Richardson (Lynette Sanchez)
E - Mya Spencer (unassisted)
E - Alexis Blancas
E - own goal (goalkeeper)