Girls soccer falls to Gunn High School 2-0

Girls soccer falls to Gunn High School 2-0

Malini Ramaiyer

Two minutes left in the game and MVHS was down 0-0. The whole team needed to focus on that one goal. Three players remained on defense, while the remainder of the team pushed forward. And yet, with two minutes left of the game, Gunn High School, not MVHS, scored to seal the game 2-0. GHS would win the game.

After losing to GHS 2-1 in a preseason game, the girls soccer team arrived on the field on Feb. 3 ready for a close match and hopefully a hard-earned victory. They lost 2-0.

Freshman Chetana Ramaiyer cleared the ball to keep a GHS defender from crossing into the box. From the start, GHS took possession and pressured the defense from the sides. Despite GHS’ hard strikes and connected passes, MVHS’ defense, specifically junior Rachel Poulo and sophomore Avni Prasad, relieved the pressure with frequent clearances. Although GHS played with clean dribbling and passes, MVHS’ lack of focus was the determining factor of the game. The offense failed to connect passes and create pressure on the counter-attack, putting only one shot on goal during the first half.

“Honestly, their offense wasn’t hard to mark at all,” freshman defender Mansi Reddy said. “It was one of our easier games. We should have won and we could have won.”

In the first half, freshman Riya Khilnani runs the ball down for a shot on goal. However, the ball flew straight for the middle of goal and into the goalkeeper’s hands. Due to a pulled hamstring, Khilnani hadn’t played for close to two weeks, but she made the only shot in the whole half for MVHS.

“We weren’t really playing as a team,” senior Janaye Sakkas said. “[GHS] was putting in the effort and we know that when we put in the effort, we can play with them and we can beat them.”

Goalkeeper and captain junior Monica Polgar saves a ball coming from a corner kick. Polgar made five saves in the first half while Poulo, Prasad and other defenders kept the pressure off for most of the game. Despite the lacking offense, MVHS’ defense held up throughout the game. However, the defense struggled to keep the GHS offense wide and concentrated in the center. As a result, GHS strikers often evaded the MVHS defense and face Polgar head on. Fourteen minutes into the first half, GHS shot, Polgar moved too early and GHS scored. 1-0.

“We’re really comfortable with [Polgar],” Reddy said. “She can make those saves. If she says ‘keeper’, we just let her have it.”

This reliance on Polgar did not work because the Matadors’ offense could not translate defense’s passes into shots. GHS frequently intercepted and took the ball back to face Polgar and the rest of the defense.

Sophomore Anitra Varhadkar clears the ball down the field with a well-timed header. The game went back and forth as both teams’ strong defense kept the ball out of the goal box. While the ball travelled from side to side, assistant coach Tibor Polgar explained, the number of consecutive MVHS passes remained low and GHS was quick to intercept.

The first half ended 1-0 and seemingly determined. MVHS entered the second half with more shots, but they couldn’t score. While Sakkas, as center midfielder, often kicked the ball long down the field, MVHS forwards were not fast enough to beat GHS to the ball and score. By the end, they were desperate — MVHS just wanted a tie.

“We were pushing for the equalizer. We were only playing three in the back and they just got a better position on us,” Tibor said. “We switched off.”

A GHS forward dribbled the defense in the last two minutes. Just the forward headed for the goal and Monica crouched in anticipation. The GHS crowd cheered on the forward. The MVHS bench screamed to prepare Monica. She faced the player approaching from the left. The shot flew into the top left corner, sailing above Polgar’s hands.

“I was really disappointed. Partially it was my error because I didn’t force her wide,” Sakkas said. “I was trying to get back, trying to help, but by that point it was already gone.”

The whole field went silent. In the final two minutes, MVHS continued to play aggressively, but the silence remained. The game ended quietly, with MVHS moving to sixth in the league.

“We just needed to play with more enthusiasm and more fun. Everyone seemed a little down today and that really showed in the game,” Sakkas said. “I know the potential that we have and it was much greater than [what we showed in] this game, so we’re looking forward to pushing it.”

The girls soccer senior game will take place on Feb. 12 at 5:30 p.m. against Milpitas High School.