Rancho Cotate held on until they could hold no longer Thurs., Dec. 6 in a varsity girls’ soccer loss, 2-1, against the San Rafael Bulldogs.
Give credit where credit is due, the game wasn’t a gimme. The Cougars put up a vicious defense, but despite their efforts the ball spent more time on their half of the field than it did on the Bulldogs’ half. Eventually the Cougars cracked in the final ten minutes of the second quarter and let slip through a pair of goals that put victory out of reach.
“I think they’re progressing. From last year to this year they’ve changed a lot,” Edward Chasco, Cougar coach, said. “They’ve been working hard since June. The score tonight doesn’t reflect the game that they played.”
The game started well enough for the Cougars. Their midfielder, Natalie Stockham, gained possession of the ball off a corner kick. She ducked through the Bulldog defenders and took a shot on a goal, which bounced off the Bulldog keeper. Stockham came back for seconds. She pushed the ball deeper into the goal box and fired off another one. This one too was deflected, but now the Bulldog keeper was on her knees.
At knife range, Cougar forward, Emily Borganza, stabbed in from the side. She booted the ball up over the keeper’s head and buried it deep in the Bulldogs’ net.
That was the first and only goal for the Cougars. The rest of the match defending their lead. They held strong throughout the rest of the first half but things began to fall apart in the second. Bulldogs first seized the advantage with a strong thrust up the field. Cougar defenders kicked the ball out of bounds to halt the momentum, but that just gave the Bulldogs a corner kick. Both teams jostled together in the goal box. The ball came in from the side, and the melee in the box gave it that extra push, but Cougar keeper, Kaila Misi, leapt and tried to grab it.
Unfortunately for the Cougars the ball rolled right through Misi’s fingers. She did manage to slow it though, and that gave Cougar midfielder, Sophia Perez, just enough time to kick it aside. “It could have gone better but it could have gone worse too,” Misi said. “We tried a new lineup tonight because it’s the pre-season. We’re still moving players around, but we’ll have it together by the regular season.”
The match continued much in that vein. The Bulldogs pushed forward and then the Cougars stopped them at the goal. They had it down to a rhythm. Fire off enough shots, though and eventually one of them is going to make it through.
In this case it happened late.
The Bulldogs stole possession of the ball around midfield. Their forward, Lauren Summers, then outstripped the Cougar midfielders. Two Cougar defenders sallied forth to meet her, but she dodged between them, twisting and turning. Summers kicked the ball through a gap between their legs. Misi dove. The ball passed just beyond her fingertips and fell into the goal.
That goal tied up the game. What’s more, it galvanized an already aggressive Bulldog offense. After the kickoff, the Bulldogs stole back possession and launched another attack, breaking through the sluggish Cougar midfielders with ease. Two Bulldog forwards, Lauren Summers and Maxine St. Shore, bore down on Misi. Whenever Misi shifted they passed the ball. St. Shore took the shot. Misi tried but she couldn’t quite stop it from rolling in.
“We’re just really proud of the girls for coming back,” Nichole Caiocca, Bulldog coach, said. “It’s really hard to be down 1-0 and have a lot of chances but not have a lot of them go in.”
The Cougars’ loss marks the third for the girls’ varsity soccer team. It’s still the pre-season, though and their next game will be against Encinal in Alameda Dec. 18. It’ll be their last before the Christmas break.