Girls soccer: First win motivates team for league games

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Girls soccer: First win motivates team for league games

Senior Alice Johnson dodges two CHS defenders before passing the ball to freshman Kalpana Gopalkrishnan. The team used a new formation that included five midfielders, which increased passing opportunities and a smoother transition from defense to offense.

Senior Alice Johnson dodges two CHS defenders before passing the ball to freshman Kalpana Gopalkrishnan. The team used a new formation that included five midfielders, which increased passing opportunities and a smoother transition from defense to offense.

Senior Alice Johnson dodges two CHS defenders before passing the ball to freshman Kalpana Gopalkrishnan. The team used a new formation that included five midfielders, which increased passing opportunities and a smoother transition from defense to offense.

Senior Alice Johnson dodges two CHS defenders before passing the ball to freshman Kalpana Gopalkrishnan. The team used a new formation that included five midfielders, which increased passing opportunities and a smoother transition from defense to offense.

Alina Abidi

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The girls soccer team won their sixth preseason game 2-1 at home against Castilleja High School on Jan. 7 due to an aggressive first half and consistent defense. After a string of losses and ties, the team achieved their first victory in the last game before league play.

“We’ve had quite a few losses, so this time, we were really determined to all work hard and put in more effort,” junior Bella Zhang said.

Senior Alice Johnson dodges two CHS defenders before passing the ball to freshman Kalpana Gopalkrishnan. The team used a new formation that included five midfielders, which increased passing opportunities and a smoother transition from defense to offense.

Senior Alice Johnson dodges two CHS defenders before passing the ball to freshman Kalpana Gopalkrishnan. The team used a new formation that included five midfielders, which increased passing opportunities and a smoother transition from defense to offense.

The game began with strong passes between Gator offense, but they were quickly shut down by senior co-captain Amelia Strom. Strom intercepted the ball before kicking it down the field. The game remained on MVHS’ offensive half and three minutes in, sophomore Rachel Poulo passed to junior co-captain Janaye Sakkas, who sent the ball to the goal where it was barely blocked by the CHS goalie.

“We need to finish our shots,” head coach DJ Driscoll said to the team after a few more missed goal opportunities. He added that though the Matadors were taking shots, they needed to follow through and tip the ball in.

The Matadors continued to play offensively, but 14 minutes in, the Gators briefly gained possession and sent a strong kick across the field, right towards the goal. Sophomore goalie Monica Polgar dove for the ball and grabbed it seconds before it went in, eliciting cheers from the crowd. Polgar cleared the ball from the goal and sent it 70 yards down the field to senior Alice Johnson. Johnson and Zhang passed back and forth and dribbled near the goal, but could not get any shots in.

The ball remained in the Matadors’ possession as they passed back and forth in front of the goal. Twenty-five minutes in, Sakkas took a shot and followed it through with a tip-in as Driscoll advised, resulting in the first goal of the game.

CHS increased their intensity and ten minutes later, sent a shot to the goal. Polgar dove for the ball and knocked it out, but the Gators got the rebound and kicked the ball past the end line, tying the score 1-1. The Gators continued to make shots on the goal into the second half, but Polgar was able to block them all.

The Matadors transitioned from defense to offense in the second half, and began putting pressure on their offensive goal. Eight minutes into the second half, after dodging three Gator defenders, sophomore Alissa Patterson attempted a shot. The Gator goalie deflected the ball, but Patterson got the rebound and scored MVHS’ next goal.

“We were working really, really hard, which is what we needed,” Strom said. “It was the one thing that we weren’t doing [in past games].”

The team also credits their increased momentum to new positioning. Previously, they had a 4-4-2 lineup of defenders, midfielders and forwards respectively, but now they use a 3-5-2 formation.

“Now we have three center midfielders, and they can really control the middle of the field, so that helped us a lot,” Strom said.

MVHS continued the forward movement and Patterson’s goal was followed by a very close shot on the goal by freshman Kalpana Gopalkrishnan and a strong finish to the game.

“When we put in more effort individually, we see improvement as a team,” Zhang said. “Now that we’ve had one win, we know we can do it again.”

The next home game is on Friday, Jan. 17 against Sacred Heart High School.