By John Kalil, Managing Editor
// After a 13-5-3 regular season and two postseason shut-out wins, the women’s soccer team stepped on to the pitch last night with a chance to clinch a spot on to the North Coast Section (NCS) championship match.
The second-seeded Lady Dons started hot on a chilly but calm night in Lafayette, roasting the six-seeded Petaluma Trojans with three first-half goals en route to a 3-1 victory and a chance to play for a ring this Saturday.
The team warmed up to begin the game to the tune of 2009 smash-hit I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas. The Lady Dons certainly took Will.i.am’s advice that “Tonight’s the night, let’s live it up,” starting strong and putting the Trojans away early in the game.
After missing wide left on the team’s first opportunity of the game in the seventh minute, freshman Addie Bailey fired a cross intended for senior Beth Daughters in the seventeenth minute. A Trojans defender deflected the ball towards the waiting foot of senior Maile Broad, who drew first blood and put her team up 1-0.
“I settled the ball in the 18-yard box and shot it to the corner. It was a lucky shot and glad I was there to trap the ball quickly and shoot it away from the goalie,” Broad said.
Later in the half, junior Emily Keeler sent a beautiful pass to Bailey on a fastbreak, who in turn rifled the ball into the back of the net. The scoreboard lit up once again as the Lady Dons extended the lead in a show of excellent offensive teamwork.
“The main component of our success was the fact that we all worked together, possessing the ball on offense in the first half. Every goal was scored by a different player,” Daughters said.
But the team in blue and white was not yet finished with the first half, returning down the pitch four minutes later and drawing a foul near the football 35-yard line.
Junior defender Aliye Wingate came up to take the free-kick, dropping a long assist to freshman Tatum Zuber for the goal to close out a huge half for the Lady Dons.
The offensive fireworks somewhat overshadowed an excellent first half defensive performance led by senior goalkeeper Kate Carter.
“The defense does a really good job at communicating, and they can handle any player who comes their way,” Carter said. “Our defense made sure to look out for their best offense of players, which helped us prevent shots.”
Already up three scores, Acalanes relied even more heavily on that superb defense in the second half of the game.
“In the second half, we knew that we needed to lock it down in the back, so we all played more defensively,” Daughters said.
The second half proved less fruitful offensively for the Lady Dons. A Keeler strike from deep ricocheted off the top bar, eliciting ooh’s and ah’s from the crowd but no change on the scoreboard.
Nevertheless, three was more than necessary for Acalanes to close the game out. After an inconsequential Petaluma goal off a corner kick in the 66th minute, the referee blew his whistle to end the game and send the girls in blue on to a title match.
The Lady Dons play again this Friday against first-seeded Branson at a neutral site. The Branson Bulls will enter that game riding the momentum of a 5-0 win over Miramonte last night.
According to Carter, only a complete game will earn a win over a tough Branson opponent.
“I think that we need to focus on working hard the whole 90 minutes and keeping our heads up if they score a goal,” Carter said.