by Dennis McCall
Taft Midway Driller
Alexandria Benevidez has a fat lip. And, she's very proud of it.
The goalkeeper on the Taft College women's soccer team took a hard foul Tuesday afternoon in a match against Fresno City College, the No. 1 team in America and California.
"It's OK because we scored a goal," she said.
"Alex was hacked pretty hard," said Cougar coach Myisha Cutrona. "She did a fantastic job. She's become more aggressive coming off the line and it paid off."
Arielle Stoyanow's penalty kick after Benevidez was fouled found the back of the net for the lone goal of the Central Valley Conference match.
It was a stunner. Fresno was undefeated, No. 1 in the state and nation and playing on its home turf.
The goal came in the 28th minute so Fresno had plenty of time to come back but Benevidez didn't let that happen.
She racked up 13 saves over the course of the match.
"It was her fourth straight shutout," Cutrona said. "She's getting more confident all the time."
But Benevidez prefers to give credit to her teammates.
"Our defenders are playing so well," she said. "We just had to set our minds to getting it done."
Benevidez is a freshman from Porterville High who considered playing at Fresno before being contacted by Cutrona.
"When I talked to her she was just so enthusiastic about the program here, so I decided to come to Taft. It was the best decision I ever made."
The Cougars are in the driver's seat in the CVC now at 3-0 (9-5-1 overall) with a home match against Sequoias (2-1, 5-10) and a road outing at West Hills-Lemoore Nov. 10 before a regular season showdown at home Nov. 13 against Fresno.
"We know they will want revenge," Benevidez said. "They have a lot of players. They rotate fresh legs into the game and wear you down. We will need a lot of stamina to offset their strength."
Cutrona is looking for a strong finish and hoping the Cougars will be able to host a first round playoff on Nov. 21.
"We've never done that, so it would be nice," she said.