The Ventura College women's soccer team grabbed the advantage in the Western State Conference race with yet another key win over Santa Barbara City Thursday night.
Daisy Cardona's 13th-minute goal and a tremendous team defensive effort enabled Ventura to knock off previously unbeaten and national No. 5 Santa Barbara City, 1-0, at the VC Sportsplex.
"The kids did well," said Ventura coach Steve Hoffman. "The players are stepping up to the plate right now."
Ventura took the lead in the 13th minute, when freshman striker Stephanie Hernandez flicked on a corner kick to set up fellow freshman Cardona.
The match was a meeting of two of the top teams in the country. Ventura (8-2) opened the season ranked No. 5 in the national coaches poll. Santa Barbara City (8-1) sat in that position this week.
High-scoring Santa Barbara had been averaging nearly four goals per game behind Jessica Domenchelli (nine goals, 24 points) and Katie Voss (seven goals, six assists) and hadn't scored less than two goals in each of its first eight matches.
But the Vaqueros have now lost nine straight to Ventura dating back to 2007, including seven straight shutout losses.
"We shut out their big guns," said Hoffman. "They hadn't been shut out all year, so we did well.
Santa Barbara has finished one place behind the Pirates in the WSC North for five years running.
"They're a good side," said Hoffman. "The pressure is now on them a little bit."
In opening 3-0 in WSC North play, Ventura has outscored its first three opponents 17-2. Santa Barbara City fell to 3-1.