Field Hockey: Game against Live Oak High School ends in nailbiter

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Field Hockey: Game against Live Oak High School ends in nailbiter

Junior co-captain Janaye Sakkas lunges for the ball in a game against Live Oak High School on Sept. 18. Sakkas scored one goal in the game; the Lady Mats tied 3-3. Photo by Ashish Samaddar.

Junior co-captain Janaye Sakkas lunges for the ball in a game against Live Oak High School on Sept. 18. Sakkas scored one goal in the game; the Lady Mats tied 3-3. Photo by Ashish Samaddar.

Junior co-captain Janaye Sakkas lunges for the ball in a game against Live Oak High School on Sept. 18. Sakkas scored one goal in the game; the Lady Mats tied 3-3. Photo by Ashish Samaddar.

Junior co-captain Janaye Sakkas lunges for the ball in a game against Live Oak High School on Sept. 18. Sakkas scored one goal in the game; the Lady Mats tied 3-3. Photo by Ashish Samaddar.

Nathan Desai

Junior co-captain Janaye Sakkas lunges for the ball in a game against Live Oak High School on Sept. 18. Sakkas scored one goal in the game; the Lady Mats tied 3-3. Photo by Ashish Samaddar.

Junior co-captain Janaye Sakkas lunges for the ball in a game against Live Oak High School on Sept. 18. Sakkas scored one goal in the game; the Lady Mats tied 3-3. Photo by Ashish Samaddar.

Coming into their game against Live Oak High School, the Lady Mats were nearing their expected form. MVHS placed second at the Longhorn Round-up Tournament, losing to Prospect High School in the final on Sept. 7. Five days later, the two teams faced off again, and PHS emerged victorious for the second consecutive time.

The Lady Mats were hoping that they could get their season back on track in their second game on home turf against LOHS on Sept. 18. The first time MVHS played at home this season, the team lost 2-0 to Saint Francis High School. In this game against LOHS, the Lady Mats were able to improve on their opening home performance with a 3-3 draw despite leading by two goals at the end of the first half.

“It didn’t go as well as we planned, but we’re still working together as a team,” junior co-captain Janaye Sakkas said postgame.

MVHS controlled play early in the game, earning seven penalty corners in the first half. The first 10 minutes saw many missed opportunities for both teams, with the Lady Mats unable to convert a three-on-two breakaway three minutes into the game and the Acorns shooting twice on target, only to see both attempts saved by goalkeeper junior Susie Han.

The Lady Mats kept knocking at the door with numerous penalty corners and counterattacks until senior Sarah Im tapped in a goal to give MVHS the lead with 20 minutes left in the first half. MVHS continued to attack the Acorns’ goal, with a 12-yard shot by Sakkas missing by only a few inches.

Soon after, LOHS stormed up the field on an attack that resulted in a shot that was saved by Han but then rebounded directly into the path of another attacker, tying the game for the Acorns. Despite conceding the goal, the Lady Mats were still pressing in attack when Sakkas earned herself a goal by taking the ball alone, dribbling through the LOHS defense, rounding the Acorn keeper and easily shooting in the ball, once again giving the Matadors the lead with six minutes remaining in the half.

The first half didn’t go completely smoothly for the Lady Mats, as co-captain senior Amelia Strom suffered an injury after colliding with an LOHS defender about two minutes from halftime. Strom lay on the field for a few minutes, but managed to walk off the field on her own and return for the second half.

Despite the injury, the Lady Mats weren’t finished offensively in the first half. Just 40 seconds before halftime, Im grabbed her second goal when a shot from five yards out snuck by the LOHS keeper, doubling MVHS’ lead.

Sakkas believes that the Lady Mats’ offensive prowess in the first half was a result of a heightened sense of team chemistry.

“On all those goals, something happened without us talking,” she said.

The beginning of the second half saw a much more balanced game. Both teams advanced the ball, but neither had any significant opportunities until LOHS cut into their deficit 10 minutes and 58 seconds into the half. Two minutes later, the Acorns had a chance to tie the game with a 4-on-2 breakaway, but were halted by the MVHS defense.

Having lost some of their momentum, the Lady Mats suffered another blow when Im went down with a leg injury with 15 minutes left in the game. She walked off the field without aid but would not return to the game.

Just minutes after MVHS lost their best goal-scorer in the game, they conceded an equalizer to LOHS with only 12 minutes and 26 seconds left to play. Both teams then increased their intensity to try to score a winner, but they were deadlocked at midfield.

The Lady Mats almost scored a dramatic winner with 90 seconds remaining when a penalty corner resulted in a shot that rolled inches away from the bottom left corner of the goal. The game would end during an Acorn attack, and the teams finished in a 3-3 stalemate.

Strom attributed the late-game collapse to apprehension, but still remains optimistic.

“We started panicking a bit,” she said. “We’re definitely getting better as a team, and I think this is a good game to bring us forward this season.”