The Centralia girls soccer team matched its win total from all of last season in the span of five days, backing up a victory at Rochester with a 2-0 win over Shelton on Tuesday at Tiger Stadium.
And they did it riding the continuation of an Olivia Gruginski power surge.The sophomore attacker netted a brace for the Tigers, scoring early in each half to lead the way.
Centralia started its season with four matches without a goal. Now, Gruginski’s bagged five in the past 160 minutes.
“She’s starting to embrace her role,” head coach Noel Vazquez said. “I’ve been putting her in a position where she’s able to be on the ball a lot more than she had been in the past, and that’s given her the confidence to take shots from distance or near, or make runs into the box. She’s a really good finisher, in the right place at the right time with some great assists from teammates.”
Gruginski’s first strike came to cap off an early bout of Centralia pressure. In the seventh minute a couple bounces 25 yards from goal saw the ball land at Anahi Corona’s feet, and the junior slotted a through ball right down the middle into the 18-yard box for Gruginski, who took a touch and put it past the keeper.
The 1-0 scoreline would hold through halftime, though not long after. In the 44th minute, Gruginski struck again, this time off an assist from Alia Gomez.
“I think schools are still adjusting to Centralia starting to become a little more possessive and pushing the ball upfield with more confidence,” Vazquez said.” Adjustments are going to happen the second time around and she’s going to be covered more, but right now we have to take advantage of the unknown and go with it.”
And while Shelton enjoyed more possession as the respective halves wore on, the Centralia back line had all of the answers. Bella Gomez and Yarexy Mejia led the defensive effort, and while keeper Liliana Babka finished with seven saves – including one at full-stretch into the top corner late – the Tigers dealt with most of the Highclimbers’ efforts before they could get as far as her.
“They’re starting to believe in themselves,” Vazquez said. “They feel more confident, and they’re communicating better, understanding that sometimes we don’t have to play it out of the back, sometimes we just have to get it out of trouble to let the team get back and reset.”
Centralia (2-4, 2-0 2A EvCo) will stay at home Tuesday, hosting W.F. West.