She kept pounding the ball, whipping the Buhach Colony sideline into a small frenzy each time she drew her leg back.
"Don't let her shoot," the high-pitched cries came pouring off the sideline.
See, there isn't a shot on the soccer field Golden Valley striker Vanesa Vega can't seem to get.
"If I think I can, I'll take it. I'll go for it," she said. "Sometimes it doesn't work out. But sometimes..."
With a quick peek at the goal and an even quicker leg swing, she can boom shots from the corner flags, the edge of the midfield circle, in a crowd, where ever.
She kicks the ball so hard and accurate with both feet that her teammates can't understand why anybody would want to jump in front of her shots, let alone play goalie.
"If I was a goalie, I'd run out of the way every time," teammate Rachel Callister said with the stone-cold seriousness of a poker player.
When she's feeling confident and sure of her talent, there might not be a more dangerous player in the Central California Conference than Golden Valley's pony-tailed punisher.
Vega leads the conference in total points (49), goals scored with 18 and ranks second in assists with 13.
She has scored in each of the last three games -- "all good goals, too," Golden Valley coach Lee Shaw insisted -- but none prettier than Monday's blast in a 5-1 victory over Buhach Colony.
Surrounded by a cluster of players at the top of the 18-yard box, Vega ripped a right-footed shot that was deflected by the defense.
The ball ricochetted back to her. She calmly pulled it back to her left -- away from the defense -- and into open space, snapping off a left-footed shot that froze BC goalie Mykaela Macias in her tracks.
"That pullback," Callister started, "you don't see that kind of move too often."
Her wizardry will come in handy today as Golden Valley (1-3 CCC, 9-5-2) travels across town to face Merced (3-0-1, 8-1-2) in a classic showdown of best-on-best at 4 p.m.
Merced owns the conference's stingiest defense, anchored by a pair of all-CCC performers: senior goalie Stephanie Isenberg and sophomore sweeper Alexa Lawler.
"She's a threat from the outside," Merced coach Brooke Wilson said of Vega. "We've got to shut her down early in the midfield and not allow her to get to the 18. That's pretty much the goal.
"We don't need to shadow her with another player. I don't think she's a threat in that way. She has a heavy ball that she hits, so we can't allow her to collect, turn and get the shot off."
Merced has given up just seven goals, including only two in four conference games, and is one unfortunate bounce away from being alone atop the conference table at 4-0.
In a 1-1 draw with Turlock on March 22, Merced was beaten not by player but its own bumpy playing surface.
A long, seemingly harmless shot was redirected on goal by the uneven grass, fooling Isenberg.
The ball caromed off the crossbar and Turlock's Sara Latham touched it in.
The goal negated a shutout Isenberg, Lawler and the Merced defense deserved.
"They've got a good defense, but I think we can handle it," Vega said. "We've been playing together for awhile. We know each others' skills. We have to stay together and make our passes work. That's going to be the key."
Like on Monday.
When Golden Valley lets the ball run, its offense becomes as explosive as a bag of fireworks.
Five different players found the back of the net in Monday's victory, proving the GV attack is more than a one-trick pony.
Freshman forward Sara Callister might be Golden Valley's fastest straight-ahead runner. She has 14 goals and six assists.
Midfielders Rachel Callister (two goals, six assists) and Nikki Moulton (one goal, three assists) provide a calm, steadying presence in the middle.
And freshman Alexandra Eber, a hybrid player who plays both midfield and forward, has been a steady contributor with three goals and five assists.
But Vega will be the focal point because of her quick-strike ability from all spots in the attacking third of the field.
"With Vanesa, it all depends on what's going on in her head," Shaw said. "She's the best player in the CCC, if she believes it."
James Burns is managing editor/sports editor of the Sun-Star. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.