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Lompoc's goalkeeper Cassandra Ceja blocks a shot by Santa Ynez' Sarah Johnston as Marina Tamayo, of the Braves, helps during their Jan. 16 game.

Len Wood Staff

The Los Padres League assists leader scored the only goal of the game Tuesday night.

As a result, the Santa Ynez girls soccer team is alone in first place.

The Lompoc defense had been marking well most of the first half. However, the Braves' defense broke down early in the 21st minute and Julia Pritchard, 28 yards away from the center of the goal, popped the ball into the right side of the net to give Santa Ynez a 1-0 win at Huyck Stadium in Lompoc.

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Santa Ynez' Julia Pritchard celebrates her goal with teammate Sarah Johnston against Lompoc.

Both teams entered the game 4-0-0 in Los Padres League play. The Pirates moved to 7-1-0, 5-0-0. The Braves are 5-3-1, 4-1-0.

Santa Ynez edged Lompoc for the league title last year, going 11-3-0 to the second-place Braves' 10-3-1.

"Every game against Lompoc is like a championship game for us," said Pritchard, who came into the game with 12 assists.

Sarah Johnston had the assist Tuesday night.

"I saw Sarah breaking with the ball," said Pritchard. "I found an open spot on the 18." Pritchard took the pass, beat two Braves' defenders and scored.

Lompoc sophomore striker Ayziah Simmons came into the game with six goals on the year, and she nearly had number seven late in the first half.

Simmons got the ball past Santa Ynez goalkeeper Breanna Rodrigues, who had come out of the goal box, but Simmons' try went just wide left.

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Lompoc's Ayziah Simmons passes in front of the Santa Ynez goal.

Santa Ynez controlled the ball most of the first 30 minutes of the first half. Lompoc put on steady pressure the last several minutes before halftime, with Simmons' near-miss coming then.

Both teams kept up some prolonged, steady pressure in the second half, but both came away empty. Santa Ynez midfielder Heather Rennie ruined Lompoc's final forey in the final seconds, corralling a Braves' pass and getting the ball safely to teammate Mikayla Palmer near midfield.

Both goalkeepers were busy after intermission. Lompoc goalie Cassandra Ceja broke up multiple Santa Ynez threats. Rodrigues smothered the ball as the Braves were making a bid in the Pirates' penalty box. 

The teams managed to keep a fairly brisk pace, despite an uneven Huyck Stadium pitch.

Marina Tamayo anchored the Braves' defense, breaking up several deep Santa Ynez forays.

"That's the way it's been all year," said Lompoc coach Jason Cochrane.

"Marina and Katie Guzman really lead us back there, and they help lead our transition."

Cochrane said, "A couple of minor adjustments," helped his team control the ball more after Santa Ynez had the ball most of the time during the first 30 minutes.

"We got more attack-minded in the second half. We were too unbalanced in the first half. That's why you saw them with all that possession time in our end. We just made some small adjustments."

A promising Lompoc foray early in the second half went for naught. The Pirates had a near-miss themselves after intermission.

They kicked the ball around deep in the Braves' penalty box, Ceja knocked away a shot, and then a rebound shot barely missed, going wide right.

Pritchard was all over the field, quarterbacking the Santa Ynez attack and helping Rennie and Ryann Melville keep the Lompoc attack at bay. Pritchard is listed on the Santa Ynez roster as a forward, midfielder and defender and she was solid at all three Tuesday night.

Afterward, Santa Ynez coach Rob Cantrell said, "I told the girls it's always like a playoff situation when we play Lompoc.

"They've done some good things to get their program up. You can see the kids as they come up through the youth ranks. It's the same with our kids."

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