by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
LEMOORE â€" Cristina Salazar is one of the reasons the Taft College women's soccer team is doing so well.
She proved it Friday when her alert play broke a 1-1 tie with 15 minutes left in the Cougars' Central Valley Conference match with West Hills-Lemoore.
"We were tied in the 75th minute when the West Hills goalie stopped the ball with her feet," said head coach Myisha Cutrona.Â "She just held the ball under her foot to stall because they were playing for a tie.
"Then she slowly reached down to pick up the ball.Â That's when Cristina came over and kicked the ball between her legs and into the goal.Â She just poked it through.Â No one else could have done that, but Cristina has that kind of soccer sense."
That goofy goal stunned the Golden Eagles.
A minute later freshman Arielle Stoyanow, who switched from goalkeeper to midfielder three weeks ago, put an exclamation point on the win with a goal that made the final score 3-1.
Salazar, a sophomore from Bakersfield High, had the assist.
Stoyanow opened the scoring with a goal in the fourth minute, taking a pass from Celia Rangel.
West Hills came back to tie it at halftime, but Cutrona said the Cougars should had the lead by then.
"The first 20 minutes we played great soccer," she said.Â "We had five opportunities but we just couldn't put it away."
West Hills got a tying goal at the 30-minute mark.
"In the second half we started off pretty slow," Cutrona said.Â "It took us 30 minutes to get our rhythm down."
The Cougars' uneven play hampered the effort.
"We made it a lot harder than it should have been," she said.
Cougar goalkeeper Hannah Tovar had one save in the first half and three in the second.
The win puts the Cougars in the lead in the CVC with a 2-0 record but undefeated and high scoring defending champion Fresno (12-0-2) will be in town next Tuesday.
To get ready for that showdown match, the Cougars are on the Central Coast today for a match with Western State Conference power Santa Barbara City College.
Next Tuesday's CVC crucial with Fresno starts at 1 p.m.