The Rancho Cotate Cougars struggled yet ultimately failed to break their losing streak Thurs., April 4 when they lost against the Windsor Jaguars, 15-10, in a league match on their home turf.
This year has been a rough one for the Cougars. Their loss against the Jaguars left them with a 0-9 record, but despite the losing streak, none of their players looked down about the defeat. Their coach, Mady Smith, was all smiles as she went down the Jaguars’ line shaking hands. The secret? It’s all about celebrating the incremental gains, according to Smith.
“We’re so close!” Smith said. “It’s been changing. Our team is getting a lot better. We’re like right there before the big break through.”
And the results were self-evident. The Cougars match against the Jaguars was perhaps the closest the Cougars have come to victory this season. At one point in the fourth quarter they drew within a single point of the Jaguars’ lead.
It occurred after a failed shot by the Cougars bounced off the edge of the goal post and rolled across the field. The Jaguars swarmed after the ball, but it was the Cougars’ Andrea Acosta who gained possession. She swooped in and scooped it up, flinging it into the net all in one smooth motion. A few minutes later, Acosta assisted another goal by her teammate, Marisa Kilmurray, to bring the Cougars within spitting distance of victory.
“I feel like we work good as a team. We’re all working better together and we’re getting comfortable. Everyone has perseverance and we lift each other up on bad days,” Acosta said. “It’s going to be a good season.”
When the Cougars managed to bring their offense to bear it performed admirably, but for the majority of the game the burden lay heavy upon their defense.
The Cougars’ goalkeeper, Ashley Baccei, stood as the bulwark between the Jaguars and outright victory. It was the frequent penalty shots which gave Baccei the most trouble as they often removed the entirety of her defensive screen. Penalty shots in girls’ lacrosse are easy to trigger. There are stringent rules governing how roughly the players can treat each other, and if those rules are violated then the play is reset with a couple yards of space, which is often enough to just grant an open shot on goal.
In a scene that played out similarly dozens of times through the course of the game, the Jaguars forward, Ashley Mc, charged the goal. Cougar defenders moved to block, but in the scrum around the goal box they triggered a penalty. Mc lined up and took the shot. Baccei flicked her net to the side and deflected the ball off the rim. It flew off over the net and out of bounds.
Often Baccei stopped these penalty shots, but enough got through in the fourth quarter to erode the Cougars’ momentum. The Cougars closed out five points behind, adding another loss to their record.
“Ground balls. We just didn’t get to ground balls and didn’t catch the clears. That’s it. Ground balls win games,” Smith said.
Yet all was not lost for the Cougars. Their chance to break the streak comes April 18 when they face off against Sonoma Academy.