Lowell’s Sanchez guides Cardinals to title with four goals

Like it has done for the entire season, Lowell High School left no doubt which team was superior in the Academic Athletic Association girls’ soccer championship against Lincoln on Saturday at Boxer Stadium.

Behind four goals from standout junior forward Alejandra Sanchez, the Cardinals won 6-0 in dominating fashion, sealing an undefeated league season and their 14th consecutive AAA title.

The win wraps up a monumental and dominant league season for Lowell (22-3), which went 18-0 and outscored opponents  100-2 in AAA play this season.

“It’s an honor and it’s extraordinarily gratifying,” said Lowell coach Marcos Estebez. “We have expectations and are proud upholding the tradition that this program has.”

Lincoln (15-4-2) held off the Cardinals for the first 11 minutes, but it was Sanchez that put the Cardinals on the board in the 12th minute. On a long, accurate ball from sophomore defender Anne Corkery, Sanchez outran the Lincoln defense, then snuck the ball past Mustangs goalkeeper Angie Mendoza.

“I was hoping to have one of my best games of the season, but I got so much help from my teammates,” Sanchez said. “We knew coming into the championship that we were the team that was favored, but we came through again.”

Sanchez struck again in the 23rd minute, taking control of the ball on the left wing, just feet away from the goal line. From 10 yards out and at a challenging angle, she buried a high and hard shot into the top half of the net.
Sanchez then completed the hat trick in the 35th minute and added another in the 61st, on a header that she bounced into the top half of the net.

“[Her performance] was magical,” Estebez said. “She was a young woman on a mission. She saves her broadest smiles for the pitch and her beam is just a little brighter than everyone else. The ball just seems to find her, and that’s what happens to great players.”

The Cardinals’ pressure was unrelenting and they constantly controlled possession, which limited the Mustangs to no shots on goal, let alone a scoring opportunity. Lowell also took 14 corner kicks and Lincoln attempted none.

“This may get lost in all of this, but our keeper [freshman Jennifer Kallenburg] is really good,” Estebez said. “Our stoppers our tremendous, though, and they stop any damage before they become emergencies.”

Not much went well for Lincoln, but with a solid core returning, the Mustangs are focusing on the future.

“We just wanted to hang with them, and we did for the first 10 minutes, but they’re just a deep team everywhere on the field,” said Lincoln coach David McPherson. “I told them after the game that the seniors on the field worked hard to get us here, but it’s up to [the underclassmen] to get us back here.”

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