The Tamalpais Hawks crushed the Rancho Cotate Cougars, 20-5, last Thurs., Feb. 28 in a home game held at Rancho Cotate High School.
The loss was an expected outcome. Since it’s still the preseason and these games don’t count for playoff placement, it’s the practice of the Cougars’ coach, Mady Smith, to pit her team against opponents with a strong track record—hence the Cougars’ dismal loss against the Hawks. The brutal punishment is all for a purpose, however. Smith hopes that by putting her team against superior opponents it will inspire them to perform at a higher level.
And, according to Smith, the struggle is yielding results.
“I don’t care about the score. I told them to basically go out and put their whole heart on the field, and they did that,” Smith said. “To me they won tonight because they became a team. My goalie finally became a goalie, my offense finally started shooting balls and I got goals from girls that haven’t even scored before. I’m pretty happy.”
The Cougars fell behind early in the first half after a missed shot on a goal sent the ball rolling across the pitch and into the waiting net of the Hawks’ Phoebe Merriman.
Merriman took off for the Cougars’ side of the field. She dodged and weaved through the defenders’ sticks as they tried to knock the ball from her net, but Merriman moved too fast for the Cougars to land an accurate strike. At midfield she passed to her teammate, Kendra Weisman. Weisman plunged into the Cougars’ defensive pattern. She drew within knife range of the Cougars’ goalie, Ashley Baccei, and fired the ball.
Baccei stopped many shots in that game but she was too slow to stop this one; the ball flew over her shoulder and passed into the goal.
It was a scene that was repeated several times throughout the course of the night—yet the Cougars’ Taylor Hoxsie wasn’t willing to let the Hawks’ scoring frenzy go uncontested. Whenever the Hawks made a mistake, Hoxsie swooped in to capitalize.
And the Hawks made plenty of mistakes. Superior record though they might have, handling the ball in lacrosse is still difficult, and on one of the Hawks’ pushes, Hoxsie intercepted a pass between two offensive players. She plunged towards the Hawks’ goal. The Hawks were slow to respond and by the time they did Hoxsie had already moved too deep. She took her shot. The Hawks’ goalie, Sarah Goldman, lunged, but missed.
“Overall I think I gave it our all,” Hoxsie said. “I just try to keep my head up—keep positivity. It keeps my teammates heads up. I tell them, ‘You guys are doing great. Just keep going.’”
Everything told. Hoxsie scored three of the Cougars’ five goals that night and assisted one other. That other one was landed by the Cougars’ Lauren Allison.
The Cougars launched a push that hemmed the Hawks deep into their own territory, but that’s where it stalled. The Hawks’ defensive pattern was too tight and the Cougars couldn’t break through. They swarmed around the goal box.
Their break arrived when Hoxsie circled around to the back of the goal and distracted the Hawks. Allison took the opportunity to work her way near the net. Hoxsie spotted Allison out of the corner of her eye and passed and while Allison caught it the Hawks were swift to respond. They mobbed her, making any forward progress impossible.
It looked for a moment like Allison was going to retreat, but instead she twisted and flicked the ball behind her in a blind shot on goal. It caught the Hawks by surprise. The ball passed through a gap in the bottom corner and fell into the net.
“I knew going in that this was going to be difficult but would help the team in the regular season. At the end of the day I wouldn’t have changed a thing because it helped them become a team tonight,” Smith said.
With the pre-season done the Cougars move onto their league games. Their next one will be away against the Petaluma Trojans March 14.