The Xolos women’s team hosted the Toluca women’s team at the Estadio Caliente for a game in Week 3 of the Liga MX Femenil Clausura 2018 on Monday. Club Tijuana came away with their second loss in the Clausura 2018 and still haven’t won this season. Las Diablas won the intense match against the border city team by a score of 2-1 and continued their undefeated streak.
There were a couple of surprises in the lineups presented by both teams as some key players were absent on both sides. For Xolos, midfielder Patricia Gutierrez and striker Cristina Juarez didn’t even make it to the bench. The decision to not start Juarez today was a strategic one to try to “surprise” the opponent, as mentioned by Xolos’ head coach Andrea Rodebaugh in the post-game press conference, while Patricia Gutierrez is still recovering from an injury. For Toluca, 15-year-old striker Natalia Mauleon was surprisingly on the bench. This was due to a couple of reasons, as mentioned by Toluca manager Juan Mendoza. The Mexican manager said that Mauleon had been training with the U17 national team during the week, but also brought her on in the second half for strategic purposes to try to generate a spark offensively later in the game.
The Aztec Canines started the game promisingly, with a goal in the 30th minute by Layzha Garcia. The 15-year-old striker received a perfect through pass from the midfield that left her alone with Toluca’s goalkeeper. Garcia provided a finish beyond her years as she chipped it beautifully above Alondra Ubaldo to make it a 1-0 game. Head coach Andrea Rodebaugh said after the game that Garcia is a player with “interesting characteristics” and is “offensive and aggressive”. That lead didn’t last long as Toluca responded quickly in the 35th minute to tie up the score. A free kick by Liliana Rodriguez dismantled the Xolos defense, and a tap-in by Maritza Miranda found the back of the net.
Xolos Femenil did look like the better team in the first half of the match, and even seemed dominant at times. That really changed in the second half as the Xoloitzcuintles opted to play a lot more defensively and avoided taking risks. This made an impact on the game as there were very few chances and Toluca took advantage and pushed forward on a few occasions. The winning goal eventually came for Las Escarlatas in the 65th minute off another set-piece. A corner kick was taken short and then the ball was crossed inside of the area, where Xolos’ defense really failed with three unmarked Toluca players.
Zaira Miranda scored her third goal this season to give Toluca the win and continue her amazing form. Xolos’ goalkeeper could have arguably done a bit more impeding the goal, but the defense also really let their keeper down. Itzel Gonzalez actually had a decent game with a few important saves, most notably stopping a powerful free kick by Liliana Rodriguez in the 15th minute.
Unfortunately, Xolos Femenil has only accumulated one point from three matches now and making the playoffs already seems like a very difficult task. The way the league is set up, there is very little room for error, and maybe starting some of the more experienced players on the team is what the team should be doing. Rodebaugh said, “We are a very young team. We brought in a lot of players, but most are teenagers because we are looking to build towards the future”. This is why Xolos’ Femenil opts to sit some of the more experienced players like Juarez and give younger players a chance, to look ahead.
The standout players in the game for Xolos Femenil had to be two of the younger players on Club Tijuana, the goalscorer 15-year-old Layzha Garcia and 15-year-old midfielder Valentina Oviedo, who was up and down the pitch throughout the match. Giving playing time to these younger players is promising for the team, but works as a double-edged sword as it could be affecting the current state of Club Tijuana.