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Prep Girls Soccer

High School Girls Soccer: Sancho's hat trick leads Winlock past Ilwaco

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WINLOCK — Kick the ball up the pitch and let forward Victoria Sancho run onto it seemed to be the Winlock strategy in its varsity non-conference soccer match against Ilwaco, Wednesday.

It was certainly hard to find fault in the plan. Sancho’s speed was a problem all night for Ilwaco’s defense. The freshman forward tallied three goals (17’, 39’, 47’), for her first varsity hat trick. That scoring led Winlock to a 4-3 home win over the Fishermen who got two second-half goals from Kaitlyn Banuet to threaten a draw late in the contest.

Winlock head coach Corny Sanchez had to sweat out the final 15 minutes playing with just 10 girls after defender Alexis Shepardson left the pitch due to leg cramps. Winlock entered the match without a bench for the game due to assorted injuries over the past week.

“It was scary, but listen, it couldn’t be done without Torrie,” Sanchez said of Victoria Sancho. “You saw what she can do. All my hopes are on her and she can bring this team alive. When we’re down she brings everything back. I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Sancho did indeed bring the team back from an early deficit, Wednesday night. Ilwaco took the lead in the 15th minute when Juliet Perez jumped on a loose ball in the keeper box following a fumbled save by the Winlock goalie.

Just two minutes later, Sancho found some space in the Ilwaco penalty area, made a good turn to get on her right foot and found the back of the net, beating the Fishermen’s keeper Zoey Zuern to the near post to tie the game up at 1-1.

“I am pretty fast. That’s (the skill that) kinda what makes me (hard to defend) and what I bring out best in games,” Sancho said. “I think I played well. I think I could’ve done better, it was just really tiring making those runs and having to recover.”

Sancho’s teammate Angie Gil scored in the 22nd minute with a shot that tracked low to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead. Then, near the end of the half, one of Winlock’s passes over the top of the Ilwaco defense gave Sancho the opportunity to outrun defenders to the ball once again. And again, it worked as Sancho took control in the open field and slid her shot past the Fishermen’s net tender in the 39th minute for a 3-1 Winlock advantage heading into halftime.

Sancho completed the hat trick early in the second half when Ilwaco had trouble clearing its line in the penalty box. The freshman striker jumped into the fray, pounced on the loose ball and shot it past Zuern again. The goal gave Winlock a 4-1 lead and wound up providing an important cushion as Ilwaco battled back valiantly in the final 25 minutes.

Sancho said she knew the three-goal lead would be important.

“I was trying to get another goal just to make sure that we stayed up there and we kept our confidence (high),” said Sancho.

Down 4-1 with about 30 minutes left in the match, things looked bleak for Ilwaco. The Fishermen were struggling with ball control in their defensive zone through that point, but they started to show better possession early in the second half which carried through to the final 15 minutes.

Ilwaco got a much needed goal from its junior midfielder Banuet in the 59th minute to close the gap to 4-2. Then seven minutes later after Shepardson left the pitch with those leg cramps and left Winlock with just 10 girls on the pitch, Banuet scored again to bring her team within one goal at 4-3 in the 66th minute.

“I started out as a center-mid and then I felt kind of lost and I asked my coach to put me on one of the wings and then… I scored two goals,” Banuet said.

Banuet noted she likes to play out on the edge where there’s more space to operate. But that’s not all she likes.

“I wanted to win,” she said.

Due to her efforts late, a win became not such a wild notion. Banuet and teammate Ione Sheldon drove at the tired Winlock defense and routinely found chances in the Winlock half of the field in the second half. Sheldon rang the crossbar from 15 yards out and also had a 1-on-1 with Winlock goalkeeper Kiya Peppers only to be stymied when she couldn’t get a shot away.

Banuet said the partnership between her and Sheldon was key in the second half as she scored her two goals in the comeback attempt.

“Me and (Ione) are really close. I am constantly talking to her,” Banuet said. “We try and stay on each other’s side and work together.”

The Winlock defense managed to hold up over the final 10 minutes, though, despite being short-handed in the face of a determined Ilwaco attack.

“My defense gave a great effort at the end and I was just really proud of them,” Sanchez said.

Sancho celebrated with her teammates as the referee blew the final whistle in front of the Cardinals’ home crowd. Her third goal held up as the difference and Winlock secured its second win of the season.

Coach Sanchez has a young, inexperienced roster which includes two eighth graders, three freshmen and five sophomores. There’s a lot of room for growth, including with Sancho.

If she keeps this play up, fans may wonder if there’s any relation to another Sancho in the soccer world – Jadon Sancho of Manchester United. But to earn that sort of praise she’ll have to keep producing against the top teams in the area. And she won’t have to wait long.

Ilwaco (1-3) hosts Forks next Wednesday, while Winlock (2-2-1) returns to the pitch Monday at Kalama.

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