SEATTLE, Wash. — Two more Special Olympics Southern California teams felt the joy of a victory at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games for the first time on Tuesday.
Both the women’s basketball team and Unified soccer team bounced back from 0-2 starts in pool play.
Bernadette Valencia scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half to give Team SOSC the edge in a nail-biting 19-17 win over Kansas at the University of Washington’s Intramurals Building.
Head coach Kim Ennis McCrory said the team’s resolve has remained a constant — win or lose — and that helped the Pomona Valley-based team put the previous day’s results behind them. Team SOSC was aggressive defensively and eager to hustle for loose balls.
“I’m so inspired,” she added. “I want to cry right now. This team never gives up. They don’t give up on each other, they don’t give up on the game and they don’t give up on their coaches.”
The team, which has been together for a year and has practiced once a week since January, saw its preparation pay off.
Coach McCrory credited SOSC athlete Danielle Moore, whose responsibilities on the practice floor are a direct result of the trust the coaching staff has in her ability to lead the group.
“Danielle’s excellent at motivating the team, bringing the team together,” she said. “She’s our team leader absolutely.”
The soccer team from Southwest High School had a pair of opportunities to avenge the opening day’s results, and they capitalized to put themselves in the thick of the medal hunt in the interscholastic Unified division.
Team SOSC notched a 4-2 win over Kansas in their first match at Seattle University’s Championship Field, and the finish to the day was even stronger.
The Unified partners and SOSC athletes complemented each other well in a 3-0 victory over Arizona. Eriberto Prado had a tremendous all-around performance, netting an early goal and an assist. Unified partner Samuel Zamora Jr. had a match-high two assists.
SOSC athletes Sophia Martinez and Christopher Barnes each scored second-half goals, and goalkeeper Everardo Velador had a handful of saves in an active afternoon to preserve the shutout.
“It was awesome,” Eriberto said. “I was proud of myself, and I was pretty shocked [Everardo] could do all that!”
Head coach Mauricio Montes was proud to see the number of different contributors.
“Wow, all the hard work they have done has paid off,” he said.
Medals Keep Coming
Track and field
Husky Track was another action-packed venue for Team SOSC. Brett Laza earned a pair of gold medals in the 200-meter run (26.12 seconds) and the shot put (10.52 meters).
Meanwhile, James Morrell picked up the bronze in both events, competing in separate divisions. He finished the 200 in 29.85 seconds and completed a throw of 6.96 meters.
Anthony Rodela took home silver in his 200-meter run division (36.39 seconds), but both he and Robert Waters will re-do their shot put throws Wednesday as new divisions were created. Robert also won the silver in the 800-meter run, finishing in 4:39.86.
On the women’s side, Krystal Johnson (5th place, 18.23 seconds), Jennifer Palacios (5th place, 22.88 seconds) and Ashlee Bahr (6th place, 20.38 seconds) ran in separate 100-meter races.
Team SOSC won three medals at the pool on the day.
For the women, Lisa Koskovich swam the 100-meter breaststroke in 1:48.29 to win the gold.
Jonathan Pierce finished the high-performance individual medley in 1:10.37 to add a silver to his collection. Nicholas Laguna completed the 50-meter butterfly in 50.94 seconds to win silver.
Michelle Pence won Team SOSC’s first bocce medal of the Games, a gold, after defeating Peggy Dixon, 12-8.
Amanda Maling (SOSC) defeated Tara Sanders, 11-6, while Jennifer Ali (SOSC) was edged by Misty Dutton, 10-9. Tina Phipps (SOSC) also picked up her first win of the week, defeating Lillian Elmore, 12-0.
Here are more Team SOSC results from the day:
- Tyson Strobel enters the final round in the lead in Level 4 play, shooting 43 on the day to put his two-round total at 90.
- Kent Menendez is one shot off the lead in Level 5 play after shooting an 82. His two-round total is 161.
- Kyle Aragon made a six-shot improvement in his second round in Level 5. His 113 performance brought his two-round total to 232.
The team won its pool after splitting a pair of contests and will begin the medal round Thursday.
- Southern California 9, Florida 5
- Ohio 15, Southern California 11
Other swimming results
- Ethan Tran and Kiana Yep, DQ in 50-meter butterfly
Other Track and Field result
- Sarah Kovacs, DQ in 800-meter run
- Rhode Island 34, Southern California 26
- Connecticut 44, Southern California 30