After suffering back-to-back, last-minute losses to Palisades and Hamilton, players on the Venice High girls soccer team surely had some pent up frustration they needed to let out.
Friday's Western League finale provided the perfect opponent to do just that.
The Gondoliers had beaten Westchester 10-1 earlier in the season and the rematch was just as one-sided as Venice won 9-1.
“This was the last game for the seniors so I wanted to make sure they got a lot of playing time," Venice coach Ruben Palma said. "I wanted them to have fun out there and enjoy playing one more time. It was a great game all around."
Early on, it looked as though Westchester might make the game competitive. Just five minutes in, the Comets got a goal off a deflected clearance.
However, Gondoliers junior Kaela Arias gave the first hint of what was to come by knifing her way through Westchester's defense and shooting by the goalkeeper to knot the game up at 1-1.
Five minutes later, Arias scored her second goal off a pass from captain Daniel Vasquez for a 2-1 Venice lead. Palma noticed the great effort from Arias.
“We really rely on Kaela," Palma said. "She is the key in the midfield because she’s in charge of the transition play. If she’s not in the game, we look lost. She just took over today.”
Gondoliers fans were ecstatic to see Alyssa Ortega back in her natural position at forward after taking over goalkeeping duties for a few games, and the striker did not disappoint. Ortega juked two defenders and rocketed a shot into the net to give her team a 3-1 halftime edge.
The Venice onslaught continued in the second half. Early on, it was Vasquez’s turn to get in on the action when she shot a low line drive kick that squirmed past the goalkeeper to give Venice a 4-1 edge.
After that, Arias made a mark for herself yet again, completing the elusive hat trick on a shot from 20 yard out. The Comets' goalkeeper never stood a chance.
Shortly after, Ortega turned on her defender and freed herself up for a shot in the upper corner. The second half was a clinic for what Palma calls the "spine" of his team.
“All season I’ve said the key players are Morgan in goal, Daniel in defensive midfield, Kaela as my transition, and Alyssa at the head," Palma said. "When they are playing well, we have a good chance in any game.”
Next, it was Fiona Duerr’s turn to score. Duerr, who usually plays defensive midfielder, was given a shot at forward and made the most of her opportunity. Duerr let loose a shot from the side that sailed over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net, giving Venice a 7-1 lead.
For the eighth goal, it only seemed fitting that a senior score in the last game of the year and this time it was Vanessa Lomeli, who took a pass from Arias and floated a shot over the goalkeeper to make the score 8-1.
The ninth and final goal may have been the most impressive. Once again, it was Duerr who did the damage, striking a ball from a near-impossible angle that somehow found its way into the net.
“I’m going to miss my seniors a lot," Palma said. "Even though my core will still be intact, there are only a few JV’s players who I know will be moving up, so we will have some weak spots next year.”
Venice ends the season with a 9-5-4 record, including 5-4-3 in the Western League. Now it waits to see if it makes the playoffs. Seedings will be determined Saturday.