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Varner’s two goals help Gators ice Rams at home

It only took Green Valley forward Kayla Varner a minute into the second half of Thursday night’s soccer match to ice visiting Rancho.

Varner had two goals, including one in the 41st minute, to lead the Gators past the Rams, 3-1.

“We said we wanted to get one early in the locker room, and they did,” Green Valley coach Joel Parks said. “We didn’t expect it that early, but it happened.”

The junior team captain redirected a cross from senior Alissa Villamore before Rancho goalkeeper Rachael Wiltshire could get her feet set in the first minute of the second half.

Varner added to her goal tally when freshman Cayla Imahara passed her the ball barely on Rancho’s side of the field in the 63rd minute. Varner sprinted past the Rancho back line and drilled the ball into the back of the net from the right side of the penalty box.

“I’ve always been taught to just go ’til it’s in,” said Varner, who finished the night with a team-high five shots on goal.

Green Valley sophomore Shannon Casey scored the lone goal of the first half, redirectiing a corner kick by senior Asli Kupoglu in the 34th minute.

Rancho midfielder Jahmela Muhammad, who has committed to play at UNLV, nailed a free kick from 30 yards out in the 64th minute for the Rams’ only goal.

“Kaylynn Burgess did a fantastic job on Jahmela, who is an all-conference and all-city player; she’s terrific,” Parks said. “We knew it, but I thought Kaylynn did a perfect job of neutralizing her.

“… (Rancho is) just as tough as I thought, and Jahmela made a great shot.”

Green Valley goalkeeper Nicole Westover finished with three saves, while Wiltshire had four.

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