Girls soccer: Matadors tie 1-1 against Palo Alto


Yaamini Venkataraman

Junior Celeste Kim (15) attempts to breakaway from a Palo Alto defender (6). Kim scored the team’s only goal ten minutes into the first half on a header, assisted by junior Hadar Sachs. Unable to put in more goals off of breakaways in the first half or match Paly’s intensity in the second half, the team ended the game tied 1-1. Photo by Yaamini Venkataraman.
Coming from pre-season with a 4-2-0 record, the Lady Mats hoped to secure a win against long-time rival Palo Alto in their first league game on Jan. 4. Instead, the team tied 1-1.The first period shot up to a start by junior Celeste Kim, who scored on a head shot in the first ten minutes. However, the team was unable to capitalize on this early momentum, even with several key saves by goalie senior Jessica Rahn and frequent breakaways by fowards juniors Hadar Sachs and Malvika Mecker. Missed chances in the first half and the inability to match Paly’s intensity in the second half lead to the tie game.Early on, the game was led by an aggressive offense. Kim’s goal put the score at 1-0. Sachs penetrated the unguarded 40 yards of Palo Alto turf and had three good runs after her initial assist to Kim’s goal, but was unable to score again as she continually avoided Palo Altos “man-to-man” defense and veered right instead of going straight for the goal.

The Matadors also had a solid defense, allowing Palo Alto only four shots at scoring, of which only one was a quality scoring chance. In the final few seconds of the first half, senior Kaylene Reid attempted to score on a header assisted by Claire Nastari, but as with the team’s previous chances, she missed the goal and was unable to score.

“As a team, we didn’t start out as strong as we could have,” center-mid junior Casey Kute said. “But we fought well, and we had a few chances.”

In the second half of the game, the Matadors were faced with much greater aggression from Palo Alto, who scored in the first five minutes, establishing the score of 1-1. The Lady Mats struggled to take left angles and shoot agressively during their breakaways, though juniors Mimi Akaogi and Hayley Chan managed to keep Palo Alto out of the offensive zone. Despite strong “man-to-man” defense, Kim, junior Lauren Hansen and freshman Christina Jennings made accurate passes. The team faced many more critical moments during the second half, including a shot by Mecker that touched the opposing goalie but flew over the goal.

The final ten minutes of the second half proved to be the most critical, as both teams attempted to score in the remaining time. The game went into overtime but neither team scored another goal, ending the match with a tie.

Rahn cites the team’s aggression and intensity as something to improve on before they play Los Altos High School Jan. 6.

“We need to improve on keeping up the intensity throughout the whole game,” Rahn said. “We were pretty good those last ten minutes, but we need to fight our hardest.”

Head coach Alan Kute agrees, believing that more aggressive play will lead to better results.

“First half we had a couple of breakaways, but we didn’t put them in. We could have been up 3-0 very easily at halftime, and then their goal wouldn’t have mattered.” Alan Kute said. “We‘ve got to get the goals that we should get.”

The team’s next game will be on Jan. 6 versus Los Altos High School at Los Altos.