The Lompoc Braves girls soccer team is getting ready for the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
The Braves wrapped up the regular season, their first in the Channel League, with a 5-2 victory over the Santa Ynez Pirates Wednesday night at Lompoc High School’s Huyck Stadium.
The Braves’ victory also locked up second place in the Channel League, and a guaranteed CIF spot, while eliminating the Pirates from the playoff party.
“New league — tough league. These girls answered the call,” said Lompoc coach Jason Cochrane after getting doused with a Gatorade-like water bucket after the final whistle. “We were second in the Los Padres League the last two years — second to Santa Ynez. This is the first time we’ve beaten Santa Ynez in the last three years. It’s great to get that monkey off our backs.”
The teams tied 0-0 in this year’s first meeting two weeks ago.
“Our youth overtook us,” said Santa Ynez coach Rob Cantrell. “We played nine freshmen and six sophomores and played them a lot of minutes and it took its toll over our final three games. The second half of the season was a real grind for our younger players.”
The Braves rode the hot foot of Ayziah Simmons to the win.
Simmons scored the Braves’ first four goals, giving her 24 for the season.
“Ayziah is the best striker in the county,” said Cochrane. “We’ve got a lot of girls who can put the ball in the back of the next but she’s the best. Our offense really revolves around her.”
The Pirates dominated play in the first half but it was Simmons who dominated the scoreboard.
Simmons scored early — 28 seconds into the match — off a picture perfect pass from Lisa Bueno.
Simmons powered her second goal past Santa Ynez goal keeper Brookelyn Fletcher 2:02 into the game.
The Pirates didn’t back down, peppering Lompoc goalie Breanna Contreras with shots, as they pressed their attack.
In the 20th minute, the Pirates’ Lexi Hemming found Rozlin Kristoffersen in front of the net and Kristoffersen fired the ball past Contreras, cutting the Braves’ lead to 2-1.
Simmons restored the two-goal lead in the 31st minute when she broke through a crowd and sent a shot into the net from 20-yards out.
The Pirates went back on the attack, playing most of the final nine minutes of the first half in the Lompoc end.
In the 38th minute, Monica Pizano — one of only two Santa Ynez seniors — took a pass from Claire Chirgwin and converted it into a score, keeping the Pirates’ hopes alive while cutting Lompoc’s lead to 3-2 at the half.
“We had the edge in possessions in the first half,” said Cantrell. “But we made some mistakes that allowed them to score on their counter attack. We played well, passed well, had our chances but our youth caught up with us in the end.”
“They had an advantage in time of possession in the first half. After scoring those early goals, we kind of sat back and that allowed Santa Ynez to get back into the game,” said Cochrane. “But I told the girls that we’ve found a way to win all year. All they had to do was trust in each other, play our game, play for each other and they did. Breanna was down a little bit after giving up those two goals in the first half. She came back strong — the whole team came back strong — in the second half. The girls really picked up their game in the second half.”
The Braves turned the tables in the second half, playing most of it on the Pirates’ side of the pitch.
Simmons gave Lompoc some breathing room when she scored her fourth goal in the 50th minute.
Lompoc got off four more tough shots that Fletcher smothered before Santa Ynez had its first good scoring opportunity.
It appeared that the Pirates scored in the 63rd minute, but the goal was waved off.
Pizano had a wide open shot in the 68th minute that hit the crossbar for the Pirates’ final scoring opportunity.
Bueno put the game on ice with a goal in the 72nd minute for the Braves’ final goal of the regular season.
“Breanna shut them out in the second half. She was terrific. She had six shutouts this year and she’s only a sophomore,” said Cochrane.
“Rozlin, Lauren Bradley, Lexi, Emmy Withrow — they all played great. I think we actually played really well tonight but we were up against a really great team,” said Cantrell.
Santa Ynez’s (7-10-4, 4-3-3 Channel League) year ends with a fourth-place finish in its inaugural season in the Channel League.
Lompoc (11-3-3, 6-1-3) now heads to the CIF-SS playoffs. The brackets came out on Saturday.
Pirates take second in CL
Santa Ynez finished second in the Channel League with a 7-3 league record, behind Santa Barbara, the league champion at 8-2. Lompoc finished in third at 6-4.
The Pirates closed out the regular season with a 48-25 win over Dos Pueblos on Thursday. CIF Southern Section teams found out their postseason seedings when the brackets came out this weekend.