The last time the Grand Island Senior High girls soccer team tasted victory, Adriana Cabello was still in middle school.
But a clutch performance by the sophomore goalkeeper lifted the Islanders to their first win in more than two calendar years Thursday at Memorial Stadium.
Cabello stopped three of the five Hastings shots she faced in a shootout – and saw another go off the crossbar. That allowed the Islanders to win the shootout 2-1 and claim a 1-0 triumph.
For Cabello, the mental approach to facing penalty kicks is more important that anything she does physically.
“I think it was more confidence thinking whether you can do it or not,” she said. “My team really helped me out and said I could do it.”
Cabello got the shootout off to a perfect start for the Islanders by making a save. Guadalupe Hernandez then converted to give G.I. the lead.
Keeper Summer Parnell responded with a save in the second round after Kaela Thompson scored to tie it up for the Tigers (3-3).
But Cabello didn’t allow another shot to get past her, and Esperanza Villatoro’s successful shot in the third round proved to be the winner.
Grand Island coach Benny Hanaphy said Cabello came through with a great performance.
“She was just huge,” he said. “She’s naturally athletic and she’s not afraid of anything. So she’ll step up to any challenge. It’s wonderful to have a player like that between the sticks.”
After Cabello’s final save, there was a 15-second delay before the Islanders realized that they had clinched a win. They then quickly surrounded Cabello in celebration and were soon joined by the boys team, which was warming up at the same end of the field.
“That was really nice to have the boys celebrate with us because we haven’t had a win for a while,” Cabello said.
Hanaphy said it was a nice moment to have the two Islanders teams celebrating together.
“It’s huge because the boys have always been so successful,” he said. “They give us a bit of a hard time, but deep down they want all Islanders to be successful. I think they wanted to join in and say ‘Hey, you can have this too. Join in our success.’”
With the 2020 season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Islanders (1-6) hadn’t won since the previous year’s opener on March 19, 2019. They had lost 19 consecutive matches.
“They’ve been working hard and never quite get over the hump,” Hanaphy said. “For them to actually taste the success of a win is huge.
“It’s not pretty and I’ll probably have a few more gray hairs after it, but it’s wonderful for them to actually see success for the work they put in.”
The win was a confidence boost the team needed.
“I think it’s just helping us with team chemistry and I think it just helped us get together more as a group,” Cabello said. “I think this win will carry us to more wins.”
“I think it raised the standard, raises the bar and shows anything is possible,” he said. “All the hard work is worth it, and if you stick to the game plan, you can be successful.”
Grand Island 6, Hastings 0
After four straight one-goal matches to start the season, Grand Island Senior High created some more breathing room Thursday at Memorial Stadium.
Sophomore Abner Sanchez and Javier Baide each scored twice to lead the Islanders to a 6-0 win over Hastings.
Coach Jeremy Jensen liked what he saw as the Islanders (2-3) continued to get used to some adjustments made after an 0-3 start to the season.
“We had our best night of practice we’ve had all year (Wednesday) night, and I think that really helped,” he said. “We’re changing some things up. Even though we went to the three-back system, the two guys we had flanking Jalen (Jensen) on either side, we’ve moved into the holding midfield spots because we wanted to get a firmer grasp in that midfield.
“If we’re going to go anywhere in postseason play, we have to make sure we have that shored up.”
Jensen like the fact that his three centerbacks played a turnover-free game.
After missing out on some close chances over the first 20 minutes, the Islanders started to find the back of the next over the last part of the first half.
“I think our finishing could have been better,” Jensen said. “That’s the coach in me. So there were things, but we had plenty of opportunities to still score.”
Sanchez scored twice in a span of 3:50 and Jerome Silva tacked on another goal in the 33rd minute.
Kevin Aguilar added a fourth goal near the midway point of the second half and Baide struck twice within a 75-second span.
The Islanders were also able to get younger players plenty of playing time, which is an annual focus in the program to keep the cupboard from ever becoming bare, according to Jensen.
“The thing I was excited about was we were able to bring up some of those young kids to get a taste of this,” he said. “Kaleb Brosz got pretty significant minutes playing on the back line for us in a back three, and he’s never really played on the back line before this week. He did a great job.
“Coben (Colson) playing in the middle – he’s not very big, but he really understands the game. I wish he had converted (a late penalty kick), but he was smiling after the game so I’m excited for him. Marvin (Dominquiez) gave us some minutes then Abner Sanchez steps up and gets his first two career goals, which was nice to see.”