Girls soccer: Senior Night shutout adds to undefeated streak

Girls+soccer%3A+Senior+Night+shutout+adds+to+undefeated+streak

Yaamini Venkataraman

(from left to right) Junior Cynthia Mao, senior Gabby Ley, junior Hayley Chan, senior Danna Ashkar, senior Hannah DeBaets, junior Casey Kute, junior Gal Haroush, senior Claire Nastari, junior Mimi Akaogi, junior Hadar Sachs, junior Lauren Hanson, senior Kaylene Reid, senior Jessica Rahn, junior Malli Mecker, junior Celeste Kim, senior Sophia Tiene, sophomore Kelly Ruckstuhl and freshman Christina Jennings.

The day of their senior game, seniors Hannah DeBaets and Sophia Tiene thought they would not be able to play. However, coach Alan Kute had something else in mind. Kute arranged for a special start, allowing DeBaets, injured during the Feb. 8 match against Mountain View High School, and Tiene, injured during a scrimmage against Lynbrook High School, to play during their final home game.

The varsity girls (10-4-6) finished its last league match on a high note, adding an eighth game to their undefeated streak (5-0-3) with a win against Saratoga High School (3-9-3) Feb. 15. Juniors Casey Kute and Lauren Hanson assisted junior Malvika Mecker’s goal in the first half, and junior Hadar Sachs cemented the 2-0 shut-out with a goal in the second half.

Juniors Miki Akaogi and Gal Haroush accompany senior Claire Nastari during the team’s senior ceremony on Feb. 15. “We decided when we were freshman that we wanted to be Claire’s juniors,” Haroush said. “The reason she’s the “Savage Senior” is because she’ll have a twisted ankle, bruised knees, a broken wrist and a concussion, but she’ll still keep playing.” Photo by Yaamini Venkataraman.

The girls started off the senior night game missing passes, as they were flat-footed and unprepared. The strong winds on the Matadors’ side helped to move the ball up the field, and the first half was played mostly on Saratoga’s half. However, the girls had trouble keeping possession of the ball, and though the team took many shots, none were successful.

In the 31st minute, Sachs finally completed the first successful breakaway, but her shot flew over the crossbar. Two minutes later, however, strong team coordination helped the Matadors to score the first goal of the game. Casey Kute passed to Hanson who took a shot that rebounded off the Saratoga goalkeeper who had dived to block the shot. Mecker then followed up the rebound and chipped the ball into the upper left corner of the net.

“[The ball] just happened to be in front of me and I just went for it,” Mecker said. “Now that I think about it after, it’s like ‘How did I do that?’ but it was in the moment.”

With the Matadors in the lead, the second half progressed more smoothly than the first. Junior Mimi Akaogi prevented several of Saratoga’s key pays from developing by preventing breakaways. Although Saratoga came closer to the goal box during this half, goalkeeper junior Gal Haroush successfully blocked Saratoga’s shots if the back line did not prevent the offense from entering.

Senior Danna Ashkar (16) attempts to reach the ball before a Saratoga High School player (7) during the team's senior game victory on Feb. 15. The win added an eighth game to their current undefeated streak (5-0-3).

Sachs ran a strong breakaway 20 minutes into the second half, and took a shot that went wide. However, Sachs redeemed her failed attempts eight minutes later when she made another breakaway.

“This season I’ve been having trouble using my left foot instead of my right foot because my right foot is more dominant, [but] I finally shot it from my left foot and I passed it by the keeper,” Sachs said. “It was really gratifying just because it was my left foot and I haven’t scored on my left foot this season, and it’s important to be equal on both feet. And it was awesome.”

The Matadors didn’t let Sachs’ goal get to their heads, as they continued to play aggressively. With two minutes left in the half, junior Celeste Kim also took a shot, though she was unable to score.

“For the senior game, they’re all focused on all the other stuff. But we got a few chances, got goals — we did what we were hoping to do,” Alan Kute said.
The varsity girls, the No. 5 seed in the CCS Division 1 playoffs,  will play at No. 12 seed Lincoln High School Feb. 21 at 2:30 p.m.