Harrison walks away from choppy girls' soccer game with win over rival Sierra

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Photo - The Harrison Panthers defeated the Sierra Stallions 2-0 in girls' soccer on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at Sierra High School. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing
The Harrison Panthers defeated the Sierra Stallions 2-0 in girls' soccer on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at Sierra High School. Photo by Isaiah J. Downing

Kimmy Villalobos' goal in the opening minutes didn't come off a clean strike.

The Harrison sophomore instead took an awkward swing at a bouncing ball from just outside the box and watched it float like a routine pop fly over the goalkeeper's reach.

"That's the farthest goal I've ever kicked before," she laughed. "I'm proud of myself for that."

In a game that lacked style points, Harrison stayed positive in its 2-0 victory over crosstown rival Sierra on Tuesday.

The Panthers (3-5, 1-2 4A Colorado Springs Metro League) are now 7-0-1 against the Stallions (1-7, 0-3) since 2012. Their latest win came despite a lack of flow as a constant barrage of whistles chopped into the game.

"A 2-0 game isn't something that really boosts confidence," Harrison coach Sasha Rauch-Kelly said. "But walking away with a win for the last five years helps us build our confidence as a team."

Senior Delayna Escobedo added to the lead in the opening minutes of the second half with an oddball goal of her own. She slashed into the middle of the box, through the defense, and lobbed an off-balance shot that bounced into the back of the net.

It was more than enough for the Panthers, who outshot the Stallions 16-2. Their win snapped a four-game losing streak and tied them for the most victories by the program since 2009.

"Winning is important for us, for our school," Escobedo said. "We want to show our school off and show them what we can do."

Sierra was shut out for the fifth time this season - a common result for a team that has one win in its past three and a half seasons.

The Stallions never found an offensive rhythm. Possession rarely went past midfield and often ended with the ball glued to one player.

The first step in growing the program's talent on the field must come from consistency at the coaching position, said first-year coach Vicky Miller, the Stallions' third coach in three years.

"The main way to build something is if the kids rely on you and respect you, and they know you're going to be there for them," Miller said. "That's where we're trying to get right now, not just with soccer but a couple programs at the school right now."

The bright spot for Sierra was the play of first-year goalkeeper Judith Hernandez, who was aggressive and stopped 14 shots. The junior stayed in the game despite a number of collisions that left her shaken.

She hoped the bruises would come with a better result.

"Maybe next year," she said.