by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
Taft College women's soccer coach Myisha Cutrona believes her team has turned a corner as the Cougars continue their impressive drive toward conference play.
"I'm thrilled we're finally getting out of our swamp," she said after her team completed back-to-back shutouts at home Friday and Saturday.
"They seem to be getting on the same page and translating it on the field.Â We still have a long way to go but we are playing very well right now.Â We're playing with much more rhythm now. We've allowed only eight goals in eight games and we are 6-1-1."
Cutrona hopes the 3-0 and 4-0 non-conference wins over East Los Angeles and Cuesta will give her team a boost heading into Tuesday's match in Rancho Cucamonga against Chaffey College, one of the state's top programs.
"We hope we can be more competitive against the top programs like Chaffey," she said.Â "They have a lot of club players and some who have played on the national team.Â And, it's always fun to play against my sister-in-law."
Chaffey's head coach is the sister of Cougar men's coach and Myisha's husband, Angelo Cutrona.
A year ago the Cougars pulled off a big upset by tying Chaffey so Cutrona knows the Panthers have a score to settle.
"They have a veteran team so we'll need to bring our A game," she said.
Team leader Celia Rangel got things going against East L.A. with her 11th goal of the season goal in the 34th minute.Â Cristina Salazar was credited with the assist.
It stayed that way until the first minute of the second half when the same combination hooked up again with a goal that stunned the Huskies.Â This time it was Rangel providing the assist and Salazar getting the goal.
The Cougars kept up the pressure until freshman forward Valaria Garcia took a perfect pass from Salazar in front of the ELA goal moments after a corner kick.Â Garcia's header into the center of the net in the 67th minute capped the scoring.
TC's quickness and speed was too much for the Huskies who rarely threatened the Cougar net.
Cutrona credited the defensive work of Sierra Sagasta in throttling the Huskies' star forward Carla Quijada.
"She did a phenomenal job," she said of the freshman from Bakersfield High.
Freshman goalkeeper Aeirelle Stoyanow blocked all eight of ELAC's shots on goal.
The next day the Cougars breezed past Cuesta with Rangel scoring two goals and Salazar getting three assists.
The Cougars controlled the tempo from start to finish and kept the ball away from Cuesta, which managed only three shots on goal.