When Marana's Jessi Koeppen scored on a breakaway right after halftime, the Marana Tigers girls' soccer squad had a 2-1 lead, and the home crowd was going wild.
But within a matter of four minutes, the Tigers went from a lead to a 3-2 deficit as they fell to the Cienega Bobcats, 5-2, last Tuesday.
Just a minute after Koeppen’s goal, the Bobcats’ Cady Cartwright tied the score.
Both teams had scored on their first shot of the second half. However, the Bobcats didn’t stop there. Two minutes after scoring the tying goal, Cartwright had a breakaway opportunity and cashed in to give Cienega a 3-2 lead.
“We are guilty of an emotional roller coaster,” said Marana’s fourth-year coach, Dan Tarquin. “Having ups and downs.”
Tarquin admitted that two goals so close together were hard for the team to shake off.
Cienega’s Chelsea Channel scored the game’s first goal in the fourth minute to give her team a 1-0 lead.
“We gave up an early goal Friday,” Tarquin said. “But that was bad luck.”
In the 23rd minute, Haley Laulusa scored for the Tigers on an assist from senior Ashley Willoughby, the team’s leading scorer the last two years, to tie it at 1-1.
Once the Tigers scored the tying goal, they certainly grabbed the momentum. Even though the score stayed tied, the shift in momentum was so apparent that a disgruntled Bobcat player blurted out, “Blue, pick it up. This is embarrassing.”
The Bobcats had one final chance to score late in the half. They got a penalty kick with 6:30 left, but keeper Tori Stocker saved it.
“In the first half, she only had to make 2-3 saves,” Tarquin said. “In the second half, they (Cienega) had more balls go through.”
After a count of about five shots by the Bobcats in the first half, Cienega’s offense dominated play in the second half with 14 shots at or near the goal.
Cienega’s Channel finished with a hat trick when she scored a goal in the 57th minute with the outcome no longer in doubt.
“We do well versus weaker teams,” Tarquin said. “Teams better or equal than us, we don’t do well against.”
Cienega (7-3) is ranked number 8, while Marana (5-5) is at number 16. The top 16 teams in the power rankings advance to the playoffs.
“We beat them last year,” Tarquin said. “They had revenge on their minds.”
With the season winding down, the Tigers are hoping to finish strong. They showed their mettle beating Sahuarita and Palo Verde in their own tournaments. Now they need to show they can win big games that influence power points. (The tournament games did not count.)
Last year’s Marana team made the state playoffs for the first time and went to the quarterfinals. There are still plenty of seniors around, like Willoughby and Koeppen.
“With nine seniors, they’ve been here all four years I’ve been here,” Tarquin said. “I took nine freshmen at that time.
“I want to do well for them. I want them to go out on a winning team.”