Oceanside Coming into the Southern California Classic, the Rancho Buena Vista girls soccer team had already matched its win total from last season.
Then starters Victoria Arredondo and Sydney Yates returned from early-season injuries. In turn, they’ve propelled the Longhorns into the finals in the Elite division of the 18th annual event.
The pair combined on an extended give-and-go play for a second-half goal by Yates to open the scoring in the semifinals against Oceanside. Then Arredondo assisted on a golden goal by Ariel Figueroa nine minutes into overtime for a 2-1 victory on Friday night at El Camino High.
Earlier in the day, Arredondo scored twice in a 3-2 triumph over San Marcos to complete pool play.
“I was so anxious (to get back),” said Arredondo, a junior, who was sidelined for three weeks with a concussion. “I feel accomplished with what I did in these games, but I definitely have to practice on my own.”
Arredondo and Yates stepped right into tourney play without practice. Four wins later, the Longhorns (9-1) play in the finals at 11:30 a.m. today at Oceanside against Rancho Cucamonga, which advanced with a 1-0 semifinal victory over San Marcos.
RBV prevailed despite being short one player due to a red card assessed with 11 minutes left in regulation. The tourney host Pirates (2-5-2) forced OT with a goal five minutes later by Hannah Wyatt.
Figueroa, who came off the bench in each half, decided matters with her third goal of the season on a shot amid traffic in the penalty box.
“I can’t stop smiling,” said Figueroa, a senior in her third varsity season. “A game-winning goal, that’s important.”
The Longhorns have enjoyed a turnaround from last season’s 5-10-5 record with much the same cast. While they lost three starters to graduation, they welcomed freshmen starters Ariana Leese and Haley Walker-Robinson.
“Now we connect more as a team,” Figueroa said. “Also, on the field, it’s just business instead of worrying about any other stuff. We’re doing so much better. It’s fun.”
Yates, who returned from a month off with a sprained ankle, recorded her first goal of the season five minutes into the second half.
“Definitely, it’s good to get back,” Yates said. “I’m not fit at all, but it’s coming.”
Longhorns goalkeeper Katie Bleck had five saves, including a lunging stop soon after RBV went down a player.