Girls soccer: Last minute goal results in 1-0 victory

Karen Feng

Matadors win first home game despite inconsistency.

Senior Malvika Mecker leads the offensive effort to break the 0-0 tie after the first half. Mecker assisted junior Shannon Miller in the 76th minute to score the Matadors’ first and only goal. Photo by Mihir Joshi.

Despite slick conditions after a day of rain, the Lady Mats emerged victorious against Prospect High School in their third preseason home game on Nov. 30. The team rallied together in the final minutes of the game after ties on Monday and Wednesday against Scotts Valley and Valley Christian High School to finish the week with a score of 1-0. Lack of energy and nearly nonexistent communication by the Matadors led to an uneventful game as neither team dominated for most of the game. The only goal of the game was scored in the last five minutes of the second half as MVHS made real bids to make a goal and senior Malvika Mecker crossed a ball to junior Shannon Miller, who finally found the back of the net.

“We could’ve been more on the ball and faster and more patient,” Miller said. “But I think we did well. We came together in the end and finished it.”

Sophomore Janaye Sakkas prepares to trap a throw-in. Sakkas attempted to score a second goal in the final second of the game but kicked it far over the net. Photo by Mihir Joshi.

The situation in the first half appeared grim as the newly formed Matador team, with only nine veterans out of 19 players, struggled to work as a team. After a series of completed passes in the second minute, forward senior Lauren Hanson failed to make a goal and the offensive side began to drop its aggression and communication. Head coach Alan Kute took on the role of communicator and fired up the offense.

“Everything’s under your feet,” Kute said. “Read the ball better. Take it forward!”

On the other end of the field, MVHS defense was much more solid as they formed a solid wall against any PHS attempts at goals. Defender senior Mimi Akaogi boxed in PHS to fight for possession in the left corner as a swarm of defenders blocked PHS and closed any scoring windows in the eighth minute, putting MVHS firmly back on the advantage.

Despite complete silence on the offensive side and the slickness of the turf, which constantly caused the players to lose control of the ball and send it rolling out of bounds, the Matadors maintained possession for most of the half and pressured the PHS defense for four more opportunities to go for a goal. Sophomore Isabella Zhang’s shot flew over the goal in the 17th minute while Miller shot far over the goal as well in the 20th minute. Senior Casey Kute sent another shot toward the goal from outside the box that was easily caught by the PHS goalie in the 30th minute. With five minutes to go in the first half, sophomore Janaye Sakkas pulled away from the defensive side to take the ball up the field, giving Hanson another chance for another goal that soared far over the net in the 38th minute.

“The turf was slick and dewy so the ball was ten times faster, so we had to run ten times faster,” Mecker said. “It was hard to get a touch on it.”

The Lady Matadors reflect on their performance during halftime and discuss strategies to overcome issues with fatigue and sloppy playing. The team reenergized in the second half to score the only goal of the game against Prospect High School at MVHS on Nov. 30. Photo by Mihir Joshi.

Halftime gave the players a chance to reflect on their personal contributions to the team’s performance, which Alan called “worse than the first half of our first game.” MVHS had not forced PHS to make any saves despite PHS being ranked 21st in CCS in the previous season and MVHS ranking 11th. Pushing the fatigued players to engage, Alan solidified the team’s strategy by identifying the dangerous players on PHS.

“I think I started out pretty slow,” Mecker said. “We all did. We were tired from the week. We’ve done better, but we had three games instead of two this week.”

The second half started more intensely as Sakkas and Mecker pushed aggressively to keep the ball on their offensive side as PHS struggled to maintain possession and could not complete passes. A couple of missed headers and failed attempts by the Matadors, however, turned the tide as they were unable to gain possession and gain scoring opportunities. In the 68th minute, PHS strained the Matador defense with two shots on goal. One ball barely scraped by the right post. The other was caught by goalie senior Gal Haroush.

“I think we could’ve been more on the ball, and with faster anticipation,” Miller said. “But I think we did well; we came together in the end.”

MVHS regained possession in the 74th minute as Mecker launched a ball toward the goal but could not find the back of the net as PHS’s goalie dived to block it. The reenergized Matadors dominated in possession for the remainder of the game, making multiple attempts to score and denying PHS’s offense. Mecker got the ball on the left wing and crossed it to Miller, who got a foot on the ball and passed it into the corner of the goal to give the Matadors the only point of the game with four minutes remaining. PHS was unable to regain possession and Sakkas made another bid for the net in the final second of the game but missed as it flew over through the field goal.

“We got the win, and we gutted it out, but I think we played so much better in the other two games,” Alan said. “But it’s early, we’re still figuring who we are and what our consistency level will be.”

The Matadors’ next game will be against Fremont High School at home on Dec. 4 at 3:15 p.m.