|Santa Catalina vs Notre Dame: CCS DIII quarter finals 2/21/2009
Today’s venue was Valley Christian High School’s stadium. This sits atop a hill overlooking all San Jose and Silicon Valley. It was quite surreal with the elevated exposure and building clouds in advance of the next storm. The wind was ever-present, but the rain held off until the final whistle.
The Cougars won the toss and elected to use the wind to their advantage. Notre had the kick-off and quickly looked to assert their size and physical strength. They had long range wide shot in the 4th minute, but did not see the Catalina goal for the next 20 minutes. Kate, Daniela, Blair April and Jackie all had opportunities to open the scoring but the Spirits used all their speed and energy to get bodies back between the ball and the goal. The game became a little more 50-50 in the latter 1/3 of the half with a couple of far and wide attempts from Notre Dame, before the Cougars missed a fantastic opportunity in the 39th minute – the ball a yard away from a toe-poke goal off Daniela!
Somehow the Spirits survived the first half of Cougar domination. Whatever their coach said to them in the locker-room had them coming out on fire right from the whistle. Within the first 15 minutes of the second half they forced two key saves from Sarah, with a couple more shots flying wide.
The game began to transition to 50-50 possession until the Cougars won a corner kick in the 61st minute. With too many Spirits back in the penalty area, Daniela elected to deliver the ball to Kate who had dropped out of the mix. Notre Dame was on Kate in an instant, but Isabelle (reading the play) was pushed up and open less than 30 yards from the goal – a positive first touch, and she ripped the shot from 25 yards! Blair gave it a wee deflection to confuse the ‘keeper and it was 1-0 Santa Catalina!
Ready for any counter, the Cougars didn’t take long to assert themselves. Jackie had a shot stopped in the 64th minute, cleared to the Cougars backs on the half. Isabelle coolly side stepped the Spirit’s forward delivering the ball to Laura. Laura delivered the perfect forward and through ball to Daniela to make it 2-0! The Cougars looked in the driving seat!
The Spirits countered quickly, earning a free-kick in the 67th minute. Sydney Busch sent in a powerful and accurate shot only to have it denied by a great clearing header from Blair! The Cougars were at the Spirits goal in the next minute with Blair barely missing the target!
The Spirits reorganized putting a speedy forward up top – Natalie Sandoval won a through ball in the 73rd minute and drove to goal. Isabelle was pressuring from the right and Seaira from the left. As the trio crossed the 18 yard line, Isabelle committed with a sliding tackle to win the ball, but the Notre Dame player appeared to be sent sprawling on the ground. The referee called a PK, and to add insult to injury, awarded Isabelle with a RED CARD for “denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity”! The Spirits central defender/sweeper, Sydney Busch stepped up to put the PK past Sarah perfectly into the corner.
Down to 10 players the Cougars pulled Jackie back to replace Isabelle. The Spirits knew that this was their chance to pull back a possible draw and go to overtime and exploit their numerical advantage. Although shifting to a 4-3-2 formation meant giving up a little in the mid-field, it was clear that the Cougars were not about to sit back and absorb the Notre Dame pressure. Sarah made a great save in the 77th minute stopping a rocket of a shot – her quick counter had Daniela denied at the other end! In the 80th minute, Sarah denied a Notre Dame corner kick picking the ball out of the air! She immediately delivered to Daniela in the midfield who promptly gave the through pass to an attacking Kate! Kate juked the sweeper to make it 1 v 1 versus the ‘keeper – a fake to left had the ‘keeper on the ground, and the cut to right gave her an open goal! (Coaching point: The fundamental game is 1 v 1!). 3-1 Santa Catalina, and the Spirits knew it was over!
For the first time in Santa Catalina history, the Cougars make it to the semi-finals!
p.s. - Santa Cruz beats Woodside Priory on PK’s to face the Cougar Domination next week! Keep checking http://www.cifccs.org/playoffs/results/08-09/SOCCER-GIRLS%20III-09.pdf for day and time!