After four years of high school soccer, Rancho goalkeeper Rachael Wiltshire knows sometimes she has to sit back and trust her team.
That doesn’t make it any easier.
Wiltshire was strong in goal Thursday, helping the Rams take a point from a trip to Las Vegas High with a 0-0 draw that kept both teams tied atop the Northeast League standings.
“Our defense is very solid,” said Wiltshire, who has spent time as a defender as well. “They click very well and know what to do.
“Our offense still needs to work on some things, but we know where each other will be, how to get the ball up there, how to score. We just need to take more shots.”
Neither team lacked much aggression Thursday, with Rancho (5-2-3, 5-0-1 Northeast) attempting 15 shots, including a last-minute blast by Stephanie Apodaca on which Las Vegas goalkeeper Allie Hammer made a leaping grab.
Apodaca led the Rams with three shots on goal, and Lucinda Luevanos and Cindy Hernandez each supplied two of the team’s nine shots on target.
With the team needing a goal, no one would’ve blamed Wiltshire for leaving her post and playing the field, either. A former defender, Wiltshire had a goal and two assists Tuesday in an 8-0 win over Chaparral in a game she started in goal.
“When I get the chance to come out on the field, I just want to make sure I give my best and do what I’ve got to do to make sure that our team wins the game,” she said.
There are occasions when the urge to score is stronger than others, though.
“Once in a while, when the team’s keeping care of everything, I kind of want to be out there and do what I want to do,” Wiltshire said. “But you’ve got to let your team do it all at some points.”
When she’s called upon in goal, however, Wiltshire is stout. She’s surrendered only eight goals on the season while posting six shutouts, including a four-save effort Thursday.
Rancho also got help from the crossbar, after Las Vegas’ Mariel Hundley started the second half with three shots that grazed the top and right posts.
The Rams responded to Hundley’s barrage by forcing Hammer to make five of her nine saves in the second half, including a 60th-minute bomb by Luevanos that Hammer clutched between her gloves, then almost lost, before recovering inches in front of the goal line.
With a good mix of new faces and veteran players, and currently tied for first nearly midway through league play, the Rams are confident they can make a return trip to the postseason.
“We come from all over, but a lot of us have played with each other before,” Wiltshire said, referring to Rancho’s magnet-school status. “We know each other: our strengths and weaknesses, what we need to work on. We just know each other that well.
“And with the new girls, they get to know us, we get to know them, so we just keep working together.”