Temecula Valley and Murrieta Valley girls soccer teams play to Southwestern League draw – Press Enterprise

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TEMECULA — Southwestern League girls soccer teams know very well how difficult it is to earn a result whenever they make the trip to Temecula Valley.

Temecula Valley had won 13 consecutive Southwestern League matches at home entering Tuesday evening’s showdown against Murrieta Valley, and the program’s league record on familiar turf since the 2018 season was a remarkable 29-1-1. So, yes, the visiting Nighthawks were facing long odds Tuesday.

Bella Jost’s half volley gave Temecula Valley an early advantage, but Taylor Kessler scored an equalizer during the opening minutes of second half to help Murrieta Valley come away with a 1-1 draw. It marked the first time the Nighthawks earned points against Temecula Valley since a pair of draws in 2017.

“Temecula Valley has been the dominant force in this league for many years. We need to respect that but then also believe that we have the ability to play right with them,” Nighthawks coach Shane Ebert said. “They listened, followed the game plan and picked up a solid result against a good team tonight.”

Temecula Valley remains on top of the standings with a 4-0-1 record after the first round of league play. Murrieta Valley sits second with a 2-0-3 record.

“We are in a good position now, but this is a very tough league,” Temecula Valley coach Jennifer Guinn said. “We need to elevate our game a little more.”

Murrieta Valley (9-0-4 overall) was aggressive from the opening whistle, employing a high press and hoping to force its opponent into making errors that would create scoring opportunities. Few teams use that strategy because Temecula Valley usually has a strong counterattack.

“One of the ways to beat a good offensive team is to make them play the ball as much as possible in their defensive half,” Ebert said.

Guinn said her players had prepared for that method of attack from the Nighthawks.

“We knew what to expect tonight,” Guinn said. “I’ve watched a lot of stuff on them this year and know what they are capable of doing.”

Temecula Valley (8-3-5 overall) withstood the early pressure and turned the tables on the Nighthawks midway through the opening half. Murrieta Valley’s inability to clear the ball proved costly in the 18th minute, when Jost got her foot on the ball and neatly volleyed a shot past the goalkeeper.

Ebert said the goal had a noticeable affect on his team’s play, as the Nighthawks struggled to maintain possession during the next 10 minutes.

Murrieta Valley eventually settled down and nearly drew level in the 28th minute of the match. Presley Henry played a long ball down the right side of the pitch. Lily Johnson beat the defender to the ball, but her shot from a tough angle sailed just wide of the net.

It was another pass by Henry that led to the equalizer in the 42nd minute. Henry delivered a low cross into the box, and the ball took two deflections — one off Kessler’s foot and another off a Temecula Valley defender — before finding its way into the net.

“I think we needed that goal to calm things down a bit,” Kessler said. “It helped get our confidence back up and gain some momentum.”

Murrieta Valley had more opportunities to produce a decisive goal, as the Nighthawks out-shot Temecula Valley 5-0 in the second half.

But Temecula Valley nearly scored the go-ahead goal against the run of play during the 77th minute, when a turnover near midfield led to a 5-3 break for the Golden Bears. Cassidy Drago slid a pass through the defense and into the path of Kylie Wilkins, but the linesman raised the flag for offsides.

“I think we were unfortunate not to come away with a win tonight,” Guinn said. “We had an unlucky bounce, but those things do happen.”

The teams will close out Southwestern League play in the return match Feb. 1 at Murrieta Valley.

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