Tulare Union survived a scrappy playoff with Clovis East, but the Redskins didn't come out all in one piece.
Lynzee Gilliland, Tulare Union's second leading scorer, drew a red card in the 72nd minute for a retaliation push and will now miss the Thursday's Central Section quarterfinal against No. 2 seeded Bullard after Tuesday's 1-0 victory over No. 10 Clovis East at Bob Mathias Stadium.
Redskin head coach Marshall Webb believes the Timberwolves used a physical style of play against Gilliland to "get in her head." After 71 minutes of the pestering, Gilliland snapped in a brief lapse of mental discipline with a push that resulted in a booking, ejection and suspension.
"It was nothing dirty, just good, aggressive, physical play on their part," Webb said. "Lynzee was taking it to their defense enough that they had to get in her head a little bit. That's a learning experience for her. She played a great game for us up top. She caused a lot of havoc and creating chances for us. She's not only our second leading scorer but really she's our play maker up top."
Webb does not yet know who will replace Gilliland on the right wing against Bullard, but he does know Tulare Union (18-6-4, 9-0-1) will have its hands full no matter who he ends up choosing. The Knights carry an impressive 18-3-1 record after winning the County/Metro League with only one loss.
"Good teams respond and find ways to step up and meet that challenge," Webb said. "We're hoping we can give [Gilliland] another chance to play again. Bullard year in and year out is one of the top teams in the Valley. They've had some respectable wins but they were also beaten a couple weeks ago so that shows they are not invincible. That gives us motivation to go do that ourselves."
Gilliland's red card came only two minutes after Clovis East's Brooke Bingham drew her second yellow card of the game. Both bookings were given for shooting the ball after an offsides whistle and resulted in a red card of her own.
The physical game produced six total cards (four yellow and two red), with five of them coming in the second half.
Maria Orozco scored the only goal on a first half corner kick that deflected into the net off a Clovis East defender. No. 7 seeded Tulare Union earned the corner kick when a pass by Gilliland was deflected to Brianne Martinho, who's ensuing shot forced a diving save by Timberwolf goalie Alexis Colby.
Each team produced few other scoring chances in the first half. Tulare Union's Jordana Guy threw a ball in front of the Clovis East goal during the game's opening minute, but none of her teammates could finish the chance. The Timberwolves nearly scored when Bingham forced a tough save by Tristan Martin with a driven shot from the top of the penalty area midway through the period. She nearly struck again with three minutes left in the half on a free kick that deflected off a wall of Redskin defenders to force another save by Martin, who was then knocked over into the goal for the first yellow card of the night.
Both teams played with increased urgency after halftime. It showed up in waves of bookings and scoring chances, but no goals.
Kaitlyn Sartuche twice dribbled through the middle of Clovis East's defense. The first chance slipped away from her into Colby's hands while the other resulted in a shot that flew just wide of the far post.
Clovis East also broke through the defense on two separate occasions. Kory Brock-Jones ran free down her team's sideline minutes into the second half before Marissa Hernandez tracked her down from behind with a clean sliding tackle inside the penalty area. Vanessa Penuna dribbled behind the Redskin defense in the 51st minute, forcing Martin to come rushing off her line for a leaping save just inside the 18-yard line.
"Towards the end it was just which team wanted it more," Webb said.
Tulare Western 2, Reedley 1: The No. 9-seeded Mustangs topped the No. 8 Pirates in a Division II first-round match in Reedley.
Tulare Western (17-4-2) received both of its goals from Chloe Hernandez. Hernandez scored in the 25th minute to tie the match at 1-1. She broke the tie with another unassisted goal in the 78th minute. Rachel Costa had two saves in goal for the Mustangs.
"[Reedley] played tough. It was a different style of play than what we're used to playing against. But once we calmed down after [Reedley] scored in the fifth minute, things went well," Tulare Western coach Osama Hamid said.
Tulare Western will face No. 1 Frontier in Thursday's quarterfinals.