Girls soccer: Matadors hold off Wilcox Chargers, win 2-1

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Malini Ramaiyer

The two teams were tied throughout the game. The score was 0-0 for 28 minutes. Then, 1-1 for 48 minutes. But in the last minute, sophomore Kalpana Gopalkrishnan’s shot soared into the goal and the girls soccer team defeated Wilcox High School 2-1.

On Jan. 24, both teams competed with consistent defense and relentless offensive play. However, the two offenses lacked the follow-up needed to break the last 20 yards, successfully shoot and change the stagnant scoreboard.

The Matadors started off the game with possession, but the Chargers intercepted frequently. The game turned to one of back-and-forth play as MVHS countered WHS’ with clean defense work, especially from junior Rachel Poul, sophomore Richa Israni and junior captain goalie Monica Polgar. Initially, the team had to play a conservative game with two injured players and one forward taking the SAT; however, junior captain forward Alissa Paterson returned toward the end of the first half and MVHS’ offense sped up.

“We were just really motivated,” midfielder freshman Rebecca Noordeen said. “We spent our Saturday here, so we had to win.”

MVHS kept the Chargers from scoring until 12 minutes before halftime. A WHS player broke away, one of the few times the defense slipped, Polgar dove before the player took the shot and WHS scored.

WHS took the lead at 1-0 only to lose it three minutes later.

Ten minutes before halftime, Paterson returned from taking her SAT at Gunn High School when forward freshman Nina Biondi clipped her foot while trying to outrun a WHS defender. Already clad in soccer gear, Paterson subbed in for Biondi. Seconds later, she scored.

When Paterson subbed in, senior Janaye Sakkas took the free kick for Biondi’s foul. Her kick placed the ball near the goal but just far enough from the goalie’s reach.

“Rachel [Poulo] took a shot and it was blocked by one of the defenders,” Paterson said. “I was just there for the rebound.”

While midfielders Noordeen and sophomore Avni Prasad persistently and successfully managed to pressure the wings, forwards Biondi, Paterson and Gopalkrishnan continually took shots at the goal. However, this didn’t translate into goals because either the WHS goalie would stop them before they shot or the counterattack would be too slow for the forwards to then outrun the WHS defense.

Coach DJ Driscoll explained that the team had to play conservatively for most of the game, so the highlight of the game for him was the ending.

“It’s always nice to win the game with only a minute left,” Driscoll said.

For 39 minutes, the score was 1-1. Then left-midfielder and new team member freshman Chetana Ramaiyer intercepted a WHS pass, broke away, running the ball down the field, and passed the ball to Biondi 40 yards from the goal. Biondi tapped the ball to Gopalkrishnan who shot from just outside the penalty box and scored.

Despite the tremendous play in the final minute of the game, the other 79 minutes of the game built up MVHS’ win because MVHS had played a constant, steady game of defense. At 2-1, the Matadors took their second league win out of the seven played this season and hope to continue their strong play into the five league games remaining.

The next home game will be against Gunn High School at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 3.

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Freshman forward Nina Biondi evades junior defender Rachel Poulo during practice. On Monday Jan. 26, the girls soccer team practiced their defensive play to model and continue their strong play from the game on Jan. 24. Photo by Malini Ramaiyer.