The Pirates' women's soccer team had an outstanding effort Saturday night, playing Santa Barbara even for 120 minutes before falling 4-3 in penalty kicks in the first round of the SoCal Regional Playoffs. Anna Escobar scored the lone goal for the Pirates (12-6-4) in the 65th minute of play, leveling the score at 1-1, setting up the extra time. VC goalie Aracely Castro had eight saves in the game.
In the third meeting between the two Western State Conference North Division rivals, SBCC won each of the first two match-ups 2-1, the teams battled to a scoreless tie at halftime. The Vaqueros got on the board first with a goal four minutes into the second half before Escobar took a feed from Jasmin Ambriz and hit a 25-yard lob over the goalie and into the net for the equalizer.
The teams continued to battle, including a flurry of chances in the closing minutes. VC's best chance for a winner in regulation time came when Jacky Espinosa nailed the right post from 35 yards out in the 90th minute of play.
With a tie score at the end of regulation, the teams played 30 additional minutes. Espinosa hit the crossbar in the 115th minute of play and she also had a potential game-winner waived off by an offsides call in the closing minutes as well. With the 1-1 score at the end of the extra time, the outcome would be decided by penalty kicks.
Santa Barbara held a 4-3 advantage in penalties entering the fifth round of kicks. As she had done all year, Castro gave the Pirates a chance by stopping SBCC's final kick. VC could not convert on the final penalty kick of the shootout, however, and Ventura's season came to a close.
"(The team) played the game of the season against Santa Barbara," said 24-year head coach Steve Hoffman. "As a coach it's really inspirational when your team plays the best game of the season in the playoffs."