Amieya Petersen scores West's lone goal in win over Lodi on Friday – Stockton Record

LODI – Wrenches have been thrown into the plans of so many people due to COVID-19, and local high school sports have certainly had their share of game cancellations almost on a daily basis. That was the case again Friday night as I looked forward to a St. Mary’s boys basketball matchup at Lodi, only to once again arrive and learn, yet again, of another canceled contest.
Nevertheless, I soon stumbled upon an equally intriguing matchup about 100 yards away as the West Wolf Pack girls’ soccer team was about to kick off against the Lodi Flames in a Tri-City Athletic League matchup. It’s funny how fast an episode of distress can turn into elation after life gives you lemons.
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On Friday, the Wolf Pack avenged their previous 1-0 loss to Lodi at the start of the season with a 1-0 victory at Don Rostomily Field. Amieya Petersen scored the lone goal with a header off the foot of teammate Emma Valadez during a free kick from an estimated 20 yards away.
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It’s an honor to regularly reunite with so many quality coaches in the area who take upon themselves the thankless task of managing young men and women throughout a season. I certainly count Lodi’s Tim Stutz and Scot Hagenburger among those dedicated coaches who share their knowledge to keep soccer alive and well at the high school level.
Then there’s West coach Scott Behnam, whose infectious personality and quirky quips make him a favorite among his players as he actively patrols the sidelines during games. He’s an English teacher at West, and he’ll never be at a loss for the timely words.
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In just the first half alone, Behnam made multiple statements toward no one in particular, but within earshot of everyone. Disgruntled over lack of fluidity on the field by his players, the burly coach said, “We look as good as my diet right now.”
Moments later, after a nearby side judge failed to call what he believed to be an offsides violation, and Behnam was rebuked, he told the side judge, “It’s OK, you had a better angle. I’d never run that hard (as the official); I’d pull a muscle.”
Perhaps West defender Kiara Blanchard said it best, “He’s so funny and a great coach. He’s very motivational.”
Behnam revealed not all opposing teams and coaches believe in his methods regarding how the game should be played. Some get downright upset when they lose to his team’s style of play.
“We are not a bunch of soccer players; we play the game differently but it’s who we are,” Behnam said. “It’s not that it’s right or wrong, but it works. We keep the ball, we play with a lot of heart and we beat you on set pieces.
“The first time we ever played Lodi we got beat 13-0,” added the sixth-year coach. “I learned quickly that if we played the traditional soccer way we’d lose. Our girls play with so much passion. They come out for the sisterhood, and that’s what we survive on.”
Less than 10 days ago Lodi’s Johnna Schroeder, an outstanding shortstop bound for Stanford, and West’s Kiara Blanchard, who signed to play at Cal Poly, battled in a TCAL softball matchup. On Friday, the former travel-team teammates met on the pitch and found time to catch up on old times.
“(Schroeder’s) just a great person,” Blanchard said. “I love Johnna, I loved playing with her, and I love her family. She played so many sports growing up, just like me, and having that connection with her has been so great. It was great seeing her and catching up.”


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