On Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m., Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) girls’ soccer will host county opponent Fillmore High School (Fillmore) in the first round of Southern Section Division 5 playoffs. The two teams competed in preseason on Dec. 14 in one of the first games of the year, where Fillmore pulled out a 4-3 win.
Fillmore finished with a 12-7-1 overall record and 9-3 in the Citrus Coast League, in which they finished third. Their third place finish landed them in the Division 5 wildcard round, where they shut out Laguna Blanca School 4-0 on Monday, Feb. 6.
Foothill Tech, on the other hand, go into the matchup at 8-2-3 and boast a remarkable undefeated record in the Tri-Valley League at 7-0-3. The first place finish is the first league championship for the girls since the 2019-2020 season, when they also went undefeated at 6-0-2.
The Dragons are headed by Lily Shadden, a prolific goal scorer since her freshman year. The forward is committed to Southern Utah University to play Division 1 soccer, and leads the team with six goals and four assists.
Freshman Tyler Hickerson has three goals and three assists on the year, and junior captain Taylor Liston has contributed four goals and two assists from the midfield. Sophomore Eva Goncalves also has four goals, tied with Liston for second on the team.
On the defensive side, senior captains Avery Denger and Malia Sanchez hold down the midfield and back-line, respectively. Their expertise keeps the ball away from the goal guarded by transfer keeper Addi Fallon ’25, who has put up 47 saves since being eligible after the sit-out period.
Claire Meehan ’23 is another contributor who can play anywhere on the field, and has two goals and two assists this season.
On the chilly eve of Jan. 31, the girls arrived at Ventura College to honor their seniors on Senior Night and to face off against St. Bonaventure High School (St. Bonaventure).
The pregame ceremony celebrated all 11 seniors, who were accompanied by family, with individual banners, flowers and speeches from coaches and loved ones.
Lily Shadden ‘23 said that following these festivities, “the [underclassmen] obviously wanted to work hard and the seniors wanted to work hard for themselves.”
This hard work proved fruitful, as the Dragons were able to remain undefeated on the season, outlasting St. Bonaventure to win 2-0.
To begin the game, both sides traded attempts at attacking, all of which were unsuccessful. However, after a Seraphs missed goal on a breakaway, Foothill Tech took possession deep in St. Bonaventure territory, leading to several close attempts at the goal.
Eventually, Shadden made a defender miss with an acrobatic move and followed up with an explosive shot off of the top of the goal to give Foothill Tech the 1-0 lead.
Foothill Tech’s dominance of the ball continued into the second half, as three different Dragons nearly extended the lead with shots at the goal.
Shadden explained the offensive opportunities, saying, “our runs and our movement off the ball was on point today.”
Intensity in the environment surrounding the game was running high throughout, and after a collision between a Dragon and a St. Bonaventure player in which no yellow card was given, boos from the crowd were rained on the officiating crew.
This frustration was used to fuel the Dragons’ fire, however, as with 20 minutes remaining in the bout, Claire Meehan ‘23 made the score 2-0 with an incredible sliding shot that snuck in the right corner of the goal.
Following the win, Coach Patty Gomez said that she was, “so proud of them. They showed up and they played.”
In their last game of the season, Foothill Tech defeated Thacher to remain undefeated in league play and secure the Tri-Valley League championship. Their success has landed them in an advantageous position to avenge the league champion team from three years prior, who went out early on in CIF play.