Girls soccer: Team falls to first-place Milpitas HS at Senior Night

Girls+soccer%3A+Team+falls+to+first-place+Milpitas+HS+at+Senior+Night

Malini Ramaiyer

Senior Janaye Sakkas

On Feb. 13, the girls soccer team wore shirts that all said the same thing: “We love Janaye.” Decorating the field with balloons and posters as well for Senior Night, the team celebrated their only senior on the team, Janaye Sakkas.

Team’s thoughts on Sakkas:  “She’s been a big heart for the last two years and a great person overall,” head coach DJ Driscoll said.

“I’ve never met anybody who can just run and keep running and keep running and just keep running,” goalkeeper junior Monica Polgar said.

Sakkas before the game: Sakkas felt bittersweet as the game would be her last on the upper field after eight seasons of field hockey and soccer.

Sakkas’ expectations for next year: “We’ve laid the foundation for this year. Since I’m the only senior leaving, next year will be a lot easier.” Sakkas said.”Basically, it’ll be the same team.”


Coming into the game, the Milpitas Trojans had won 10 games, tied one game and lost zero. The Matadors had won two games, tied one game and lost eight. Milpitas High School held first place in the league and with only Wilcox High School trailing behind with zero wins, zeros ties and 12 losses, MVHS held second to last.

The Matadors didn’t expect to win and they didn’t win. After a quick Senior Night Ceremony for the team’s only senior, captain Janaye Sakkas, the girls soccer team faced and lost 2-0 to MHS on Feb 12.

“This team was really hard, they’re undefeated,” Sakkas said. “So going out only 2-0 — they beat other teams 6-0, 4-0, so it was a really nice way to end the season.”

MVHS kept the Trojans’ scoring opportunities to a minimum with consistent defense and goalkeeping. Though the Matador defense had some holes, the defense only conceded one goal to the Trojans’ evasive offense and one to a Trojan penalty kick.

Since only three backs, not including goalkeeper junior Monica Polgar, were on defense the spacing was off and the Trojans could cut in through the wide gaps, enter the penalty box and shoot. Luckily, the Trojans had a weak shooting game on Thursday. MVHS could feel the pressure of the Trojan offense, but the game remained scoreless for most of the first half.

Three minutes before halftime, defender freshman Nanda Nayak ran neck and neck with an MHS forward and unable to cut off this attack, followed the forward all the way into the penalty box. She finally took the ball away, but cleared it short — and straight to another MHS forward who shot immediately and scored.

“The first goal was my fault,” Nayak said. “I literally passed it to the other team.”

Down 1-0, MVHS was only one goal away from evening out the score, but nine of the Matadors had dropped back on defense while only two stayed forward. The midfielders joined the defenders, the forwards became midfielders and the transition to offensive play took too long to generate many shots. A slow transition has plagued MVHS throughout the the season, as they continually lacked a strong counter-attack, so Polgar explained that the team needs to improve finishing for next year.

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Head coach DJ Driscoll talks to the team during halftime on Feb. 10. Down by one goal, the team aimed to use more specific communication during the second half and to concentrate on defense. Photo by Alina Abidi.

 

“Our backline is doing really well,” Polgar said. “We just need to make sure our forwards keep up with that.”

Into the second half, the Trojans kept possession, as the game broke down into a cycle. MHS would attempt a shot. The Trojans would miss or Polgar would block it. MHS would intercept Polgar’s drop kick or a MVHS midfielder’s desperate long ball. If they evaded MVHS’ defense, the Trojans would shoot once again.

With 18 minutes left in the game, defender freshman Chetana Ramaiyer fouled a Trojan in the penalty box, and MHS was awarded a penalty kick. To prevent the Trojan from shooting, Ramaiyer had fallen on the forward, who would have otherwise shot. As the players set up for the shot, the whole MVHS bench sat silently while the Trojans cheered wildly. But everyone fell silent when the Trojan went up to shoot. She shot a rolling ball straight toward Polgar, but the force of the shot forced the ball through Polgar’s hands and ended up in the goal. MHS was now up by 2-0.

“The second goal was smart foul,” Nayak said, “but it was just an unlucky game.”

While the Matadors were down two goals, in the last minutes of the game, they continued to compete. They played competitively until the end to keep their score deficit at two. To lose their last home game with honor, the players had to play aggressively to resist the relentless Trojans.

When freshman Riya Khilani came off the field for a break, head coach DJ Driscoll mocked Khilnani as she took her seat on the bench.

“You fell a couple of times,” Driscoll said, grinning.

“A couple?” Khilnani said.

“Yeah, like 17 million,” Driscoll said.

Polgar saved a ball in the last nine minutes of the game and then sophomore Kalpana Gopalkrishnan attempted a shot with a minute and a half left. However, the Trojans’ goalkeeper blocked it. With 11 seconds left, junior Nikki Stuart bought MVHS two more minutes by kicking the ball out.

“They showed their heart out there,” Driscoll said. “The linesman came out and talked to me in the middle of the game and just like ‘I can’t believe how much they wanna play for you. Even when they’re down, they’re working really hard.’”

They played until time ran out and even though they lost 2-0, they were proud that they had competed so well against a stronger team.

“A couple of games ago, we just did not play that well,” Sakkas said. “We weren’t connecting and [in] this game we really showed our heart.”

Photos by Alina Abidi