The Denair High girls soccer team has one major goal this season – to qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI playoffs. To do that, the Coyotes will have to live up to the potential they already have shown against some of the Southern League’s top schools, teams like Delhi, Orestimba and Gustine.
Heading into Friday’s home match against Le Grand, Denair sits in fourth place in the SL standings at 2-2 and is 5-5-1 overall. That record includes a 3-1 road victory over Delhi last month as well as a narrow 2-1 loss Tuesday in Newman to first-place Orestimba.
True to their .500 record, the Coyotes have spent much of the season alternating wins and losses. They have yet to lose two matches in a row, but their longest winning streak is only two games. The potential is there, second-year coach Mark Morphy believes, for Denair to get hot and go on a run.
“We are a well-balanced team,” he said. “We have an excellent goalkeeper and our defense is solid. We’re a small school playing mostly against larger schools. We only had one senior last year, but we have four this year, so we have more experience and our passing skills have improved.”
Senior goalie Maryfer Carillo anchors Denair’s defense. “She does a terrific job for us,” Morphy said.
Playing in front of Carillo are senior sweeper Yvette Rodriguez and junior fullback Andrea Vasquez. Morphy said Rodriguez’s quickness helps her skillfully defend the opponent’s top scorers week in and week out.
Offensively, freshman midfielder Jazmine Padilla leads the team with six goals while seniors Abigail Hernandez and Skylynn High have four each.
“Jazmine is an outstanding player. She also does a good job of distributing the ball,” Morphy said. “Abigail is an all-around good player and Skylynn is very good at passing and finishing.”
Denair’s improvement from last season to this one was evident Tuesday against Orestimba (6-1-2, 4-0). The Coyotes led 1-0 most of the first half before the Warriors tied it with about a minute remaining. The score remained 1-1 until late in the match when Denair was called for a foul and Orestimba was able to convert a free kick for the winning goal.
It’s that kind of effort that gives Morphy confidence that the playoffs are a realistic goal this season.
“It was a well-played game by both teams. I’m very proud of our girls for how hard they played,” he said. “There are lots of games left. We just need to beat some of the teams in front of us — which I think we can do – and we’ll have a chance to make the playoffs.”