Senior Jada Castillo reacts for Faith Lucero’s bending corner kick for a goal.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

Down 1-0 with less than 10 minutes to play, the Lady Warriors struck like lightning for a 2-1 win against Highland on Sept. 6.

The two teams battled through a scoreless first half and looked like they were on the way to a penalty-kick situation when Highland got the ball into the net to take the lead.

A few minutes later, Faith Lucero used a favorable wind to bend the ball into the goal over the hands of the Highland goalkeeper. It was a fitting moment for the senior who has stepped up her role on the field and has gone from encouraging to also barking orders to her teammates.

“I’ve been doing the nice talk for a little bit, and I think these girls need a little bit more of a push, so I tried it, and I mean, it seemed to work better,” Lucero said.

It gets even better when Lucero is on the same wavelength as her coach because when she looked at Amanda Saenz, they instantly connected about who should take the corner kick.

“I’ve taken some of the corner kicks, but this one, I just felt it,” Lucero said. “I looked over at coach across the field, and I knew I was going to take the kick.”

Saenz agreed with Lucero’s assessment of the situation.

“Faith definitely the tempo when she scored that corner for sure. I was on the sidelines saying, if we get another corner, I’m going to have Faith take it. And it was like weird because it was like we had that telepathic connection. I looked at her, and she looked at me. I was like – go take it,” Saenz said.

Call it telepathic or simply good vision, but Saenz also thought Jada Castillio’s speed could overcome the Highland defenders with the win at her back.

Oh, man, I was just like, Jada has all this speed. She’s going to put it in the bottom corner. And it’s weird because you, like, have these little visions of it happening,” Saenz said.

That kind of thinking can be infectious, considering the Lady Warriors lost to Highland 4-2 a week ago and bounced back with a determined attack that didn’t appear the least bit desperate.

“I think we have so much more potential than we think we have shown so far. I mean, losing to this team and beating them 2-1. You could tell when the second half started that the team just wanted it, no matter if there were five minutes left for 30. I’m proud of them. They pushed it hard,” Lucero said.

Saenz has been moving her players around on the field, hoping it will improve her team’s consistency.

“I think we might have found a rhythm with this game. I’ve been playing around with the girls’ spots a lot just to try and find what works and what clicks, and it looks like we found a rhythm here,” Saenz said.

Saenz also likes the rhythm Lucero is setting as she field generals her teammates. “I tell them if you guys talk to each other off the ball, it’s going to make it easier.  I told them yesterday, l if you’re going to expect these things from the younger girls like it must come from our veteran players,” Saenz said.