By Josh Levine
Despite losing arguably their best player to a serious ankle injury, Mission High School defeated visiting Washington High School 2-1 in Academic Athletic Association play on Tuesday.
The Mission win puts the two teams tied for second place and the final playoff spot in the Heinline Division with identical 9-3-1 records.
Should both teams end with identical records and point totals, the team that scores more goals throughout the season will make the playoffs.
“Right now we just need to keep our heads up and maintain our record,” said Washington head coach Charles Brinton. “When we play Lowell [on April 28] we need to beat them and finish strong.”
The low part of the game came when senior forward Norma Aracely Perez went down in the 64th minute with a serious ankle injury. Mission head coach Scott Kennedy would not speculate on the extent of the injury, but was clearly concerned after the game.
After the game, Perez was picked up by paramedics and taken to a local hospital, accompanied by her parents.
“That definitely hurt us today. She is one of our best players out there,” Kennedy said. “It’s great that we beat Washington, but right now I’m not even thinking about the playoffs. We will be fine either way, but right now her health is what is on my mind.”
Perez scored the first goal of the game in the 20th minute on a breakaway and was a factor up until her injury.
“It’s part of the game,” Brinton said of the injury. “She’s a great playmaker and that’s very unlucky for her and for Mission. Her injury took off a lot of pressure on our defense and made it easier to be on the offensive.”
After the injury to Perez, Washington stormed on the offensive and took six shots over a 10-minute span, four of which were on goal, before evening the score on a shot from Marianna Aguirre in the 74th minute.
Mission junior Yessenia Aguilar responded just four minutes later though, scoring the game-winning goal after dribbling her way through multiple Washington defenders.
According to Kennedy, the win was the first in time in Mission’s history that they have defeated Washington in girls soccer.
Lowell, which is still undefeated in AAA play, needs only one more win to secure a playoff spot, while Washington and Mission will continue to battle for the final spot in the Heinline Division.
Mission will play Wallenberg, Lowell and Galileo in its final three games, while Washington takes on Jordan, Wallenberg and Lowell in its season finale.