All-star games are supposed to be high-scoring affairs.
That's what Kacey Held and everyone else involved with the Fresno Bee/Vida en el Valle All-Star Girls Soccer Game was thinking Thursday when neither side could punch the ball into the net.
Then it happened. With 8 minutes left, Held (Buchanan High) flicked the ball past a defender and then passed to a sprinting Allison Case (Clovis West), who rocketed a shot just inside the post.
Moments later, Lilly Ruiz (Liberty-Madera Ranchos) dribbled around goalkeeper Sarah King (Tulare Western) and scored to give the Grey team a 2-0 victory over Red at Chukchansi Park.
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"That was crazy it took so long to score," said Held, The Bee's Player of the Year, bound for Cal Poly. "Some of us haven't played [soccer] for a while and it took a little time to find our rhythm. But it was fun."
Recent high school graduates from Fresno, Clovis and Madera made up the Grey team, while the Red squad included players from Visalia, Tulare and Mendota.
Although they came from different schools, many of the girls played together as members of the California Odyssey Soccer Club.
That familiarity came in handy when the Grey team, after being thwarted by King all game, finally broke the ice.
"Allison and I have played club soccer since we were 11," Held said. "I just saw the hole, and there she was. You're always going to have that connection with the girls you play with."
Case, who will play at Stanislaus State, felt likewise: "It was an amazing pass. I've played club with [Held], so she knows where I am, and I know where she is."
After giving up the go-ahead goal, the Red defense got a little careless.
No sooner had King thwarted a 1-on-1 chance than Ruiz found herself on a solo breakaway. When King rushed upfield, Ruiz calmly dribbled around the goalkeeper before sending a shot into the empty net.
"The goalie came out and I didn't have an angle to shoot, so I had to cut in," said Ruiz, who will play at Fresno City College.
Although she allowed two goals, King gave a strong effort with several diving saves.
"I enjoyed playing against them because I feel like we're the underdog," she said. "It helps me get ready for college."
Ashley Tallon (Tulare) had the two best chances for the Red side. Just before halftime, her curling shot smacked off the goal post.
The Grey team was coached by Gene West (Madera South), Anthony Civiello (Roosevelt) and Jon Horton and Jeff Annis (both Clovis). Jacob De Groot of Central Valley Christian coached the Red team with help from Josh Kaminski (Redwood), Manuel Costa (Golden West) and Archie Ochoa (Mendota).
Held spoke for all the players when she said it felt like the last hurrah of high school.
"Some of these girls I've played with forever, and this is it," she said. "I mean, it's really over. It's been so much fun, but I'm ready to move on to something bigger and better."