|Despite a series of superlative performances in all of our pre-season games, the Cougars were still apprehensive about their opening league game against Stevenson. This was the opener of what could be their fourth consecutive season of undefeated league play. Thursday’s practice was designed to be light, but the energy and focus was clearly up several notches! While other teams look to Catalina as the “team to beat”, we’re just using them as preparation for play-offs! It’s nothing personal; we’re not planning on running up the score – we’re reinforcing the concept that if we see a scoring opportunity you never, ever hesitate to take it. This was a big game for the Cougars and they wanted to make a statement: Clearly there was going to be no mercy today.
Straight from the kickoff the Cougars were at the Pirates goal, with Jackie having a shot within 20 seconds. Although cleared to midfield, Ashley was quick to gain possession, sending a long diagonal across the Pirates’ eighteen for Daniela: a touch for control, then a shot to the back of the net! 1-0 in less than one minute! Daniela was back rattling the nerves of the Pirate defense within five minutes, then it was Jackie in the 10th minute rattling the crossbar from 30 yards. With a well timed supporting run, Kendra put the rebound in the goal! 2-0 Catalina!
The Pirates did have their forays into the Cougar half, including a shot in the 16th minute, but with Laura and Isabelle in the center, supported by Ashley and Dixie on the outsides, nothing was really threatening Gen. At the other end of the field the Pirates were putting two players on Daniela, but now having to deal with shots from Kate! Despite the pressure and frustration Daniela was able to combine with Blair to give Sarah a goal in the 20th minute!
Who were the Pirates to focus on: Kate or Daniela? The pressure was intense with the Pirates’ ‘keeper making several spectacular saves! Confused about their marking, the Pirates could not keep pace with Kate in the 28th minute when she dribbled around all of the Pirates’ defense before finding the necessary slot clear to the back of the net! Five shots threatened the Pirates’ goal in the remaining minutes of the first half before the whistle signaled relief from the Cougar onslaught. Good work Cougars: More still to be done!
The Pirates’ kick-off was promptly stolen by the Cougars, and in little over minute they won a corner kick. A great ball from Kate found Blair open on the back post . . . a great header . . . off the bar . . . a desperate clearance and the Pirates were able to breathe again!
Minutes later, the Cougars were back again. Mika’s supporting run from the right finds the short through touch from Blair to make it 5-0 in the 44th minute!
The Pirates continue their double marking on Daniela, but let her draw her marks wide to create space for Kate! Combining with Sarah, Daniela gives Kate all the room she needs to beat the Pirates’ goalie once again in the 48th minute.
It’s taken a lot of hard work and continued high and focused pressure on the Pirates to build such a substantial and possibly insurmountable lead. Blair, Jackie and Sarah have anchored the mid-field with the help of Kendra, Eliza, Mika and Mary. Laura and Isabelle have managed the defensive third with Dixie, Ashley, Stephanie and Laila supporting. Laura and Isabelle’s vision have been instrumental in building the Cougar counter-attacks!
Now, perhaps backing off a little, the Cougars give up a corner kick in the 57th minute. The ball ends up in a crowd ten yards in front of the goal before popping into the Cougar net. The Pirates and their fans are ecstatic about scoring against the Cougars! Is it even possible for the Pirates to save face with this game?
The Cougars reply within a minute, but only to have Jackie’s goal called offside. Not to be undone, a minute later Jackie is promptly driving down the left flank, then combining with Daniela to deliver the ball to Kate to remind the Pirates that the Cougars are still in charge at 7-1!
The Pirates seem not to have gotten the message that they might lose this game, and rally within a few minutes finding the Cougars pushed too high to offer an effective defense: Gen deals with the breakaway, stopping the first shot at almost point blank range, but the rebound is put away: Goal #2 against the Cougars – the Pirates are thinking there might be a comeback?!
Oops, sorry, but that’s not about to happen! Totally focused again, the Cougars take their game directly to the Pirates. Jackie blasts in the corner kick from Kate in the 67th minute to make it 8-2. Yet again, Jackie drives down deep into the left corner, combines with Blair to meet the ball near post to beat the goalie again, making it 9-2. The Cougars win another corner kick in the 78th minute. Kate delivers a great ball, Blair flicks it on for Daniela to head it into the goal – 10-2!
The Pirates kick-off, the Cougars strip them of the ball, and in less than a minute, Kate, despite all the Pirate defense on her, delivers the perfect ball to Daniela – GOAL! 11-2! Both Kate and Daniela make their hat-tricks! The ship is sunk, the booty stolen! Catalina makes their intentions clear to the rest of the league!