Neither rain nor sleet nor wind could halt the Rancho Cotate Cougars Fri. night in their 12-1 victory over the Elsie Allen Lobos.
Yet the Cougars weren’t exactly underdogs in the fight. The Lobos have struggled this year, lacking even a single win to tack onto their record. The Cougars, in contrast, are 7-1 in league, which puts them in contention for first place of their division and guarantees a spot in the playoffs. Even the horrible weather—an unpleasant combination of rain and wind that at times blew the water in sideways—played in the Cougars’ favor.
“They love it,” Cougar coach, Edward Chasco, said about the weather. “They might complain about it being cold, but they’d much rather play in the rain than the heat.”
Right from the kick-off the Cougars dominated the field. They seized and kept an early lead in the first half when Natalie Stockham broke free from the scrum outside the Cougars’ goal box. Stockham pushed past the Lobos defenders, who fell in behind.
Stockham was too fast. She blitzed the goal. The Lobos goalie crouched and readied herself for the block, but Stockham’s shot sailed up and over the goalie’s head and into the waiting net. “Last season we didn’t do so well. To win all of our games is really amazing,” Stockham said. “The secret is teamwork and always communicating. I’ve been playing soccer all my life. I love the team bonding and the feeling I get when I score.”
The Cougars spent more time on the Lobos’ side of the field than they spent on their own. They pressed their advantage when Cougar Rita Khoury gained possession after a desperate ploy by a Lobos defender sent the ball spiraling out of bounds. The Cougars threw it back in and Khoury took off for the goal box.
The Lobos goalie deflected Khoury’s first shot, as well as her second, but with the Lobos defenders slow to respond, Khoury’s third made it through. The goal helped secure the Cougars’ commanding lead as the clock ticked out the end of the first half.
With the game essentially secured, the Cougar coach, Edward Chasco, opted to handicap his team to keep the match competitive. He pulled three of his players from the field, matching eight Cougars against the Lobos’ eleven. Despite this, the Cougars pulled in another five goals in the second half.
The Lobos did manage to score a single goal, but despite their best efforts it wasn’t enough to keep up with the Cougars.
“It’s a 180 degree turn from last year. [The Cougars] play as a unit. They believe in the program that we wanted for them, and they’re believing in each other, and themselves,” Chasco said. “Last year we were zero and fourteen and the year before that was the same. It’s a complete turnaround.”
The last game of the season for the Cougars will be at home Feb. 8. They face off against the Santa Rosa Panthers, who are currently first and undefeated in league play.