It’s hard to imagine that just one game into the Mother Lode League season that the Calaveras High School girls’ soccer team was hurting for a victory, but that was the case heading into Thursday’s game against Bret Harte.
While Calaveras had played a number of competitive games, it only had two wins to its name. Heading into Thursday’s rivalry clash, Calaveras had dropped its last two games, which includes a 4-1 defeat to the Summerville Bears Tuesday night in San Andreas.
Although it’s still early in the league season, falling to 0-2 is nowhere near an ideal scenario. But beating Bret Harte wouldn't be an easy task, as the Bullfrogs have had nothing but luck on their side, having not lost in their last six games.
With the San Andreas weather reaching the low 40s, Calaveras defended its home turf and got some positive feelings back on its side with a 2-0 shutout of the Bullfrogs.
“We had more and better communication tonight than we did Tuesday,” Calaveras first-year head coach Deanna Williams said. “We started a little slow tonight, but definitely picked it up in the second half. I feel like we had a lack of communication and a little bit of laziness in the last game, so it was much better tonight.”
While Calaveras can use Thursday’s game as something to build off of, Bret Harte will use it as motivation. After being shutout for the first time since late November, Bret Harte’s first-year head coach Jessica Bowman feels her team has work to do.
“We have a lot to work on at practice,” Bowman said. “We started with the majority of possessions and then we stopped coming to the ball. There’s a lot that we need to work on. Obviously, our morale is pretty crushed after tonight. I expected a win tonight, so I’m a little down.”
Physicality was on full display from the moment the game started. Both teams wanted to prove who the top squad in Calaveras County was and neither could come up with an answer to the other. The Bullfrogs were able to get a couple of shots on goal, but nothing hit net.
The first score of the night came with 5:35 to play in the opening half. Calaveras had possession and the sophomore duo of Montana Grant and Sydney Remus decided that should one of them get the ball, they needed to take their shot. Grant received a pass from teammate Zoe Stockdale and put the plan into action.
Grant sent a long shot flying toward the upper-right corner of the goal and it appeared as if Bret Harte senior goalkeeper Olivia Luna would have just enough reach to prevent the ball from getting by. Luna got her fingers on the ball, but that wasn’t enough to slow it down and Calaveras led 1-0.
“I was talking with Sydney (Remus) in the middle and nothing was really connecting,” Grant said of the moments leading up to her goal. “I told her that if we get it and we have a good shot, we should just rip it. I got the pass from Zoe and I shot it.”
With Bret Harte trailing 1-0 with under six minutes to play in the opening half, Bowman could see a change in her team, which ended up affecting them the rest of the night.
“Our spirits got really down after the first goal,” Bowman said. “We started slipping into some negativity, to be completely honest. I think it was really hard to come back from and that’s something that we’ll have to work on.”
Trailing 1-0 at half, Bowman wanted her team to continue to be aggressive offensively and not worry about the deficit.
“I wanted them to come out like it’s 0-0 and to keep firing at the goal,” Bowman said. “It takes on average 10 shots to get a goal and I figured that if we kept hammering away, we’d at least get two goals and take the game.”
In the final 40 minutes, Calaveras’ defense tightened up and suffocated the Bret Harte offense. And once time became a factor to the Bullfrogs, Calaveras’ defense applied even more pressure.
“Our defense was amazing,” Williams said. “I’ve got some young girls in the back and one had never played defense before. We build our offense off our defense. We build from the back and they distributed it forward. 90-percent of our force comes from our defense.”
Calaveras added to its lead with 9:15 to play. Stockdale, Remus and Grant got behind the Bret Harte defense and had an advantage in numbers. Remus passed to Grant, who found Stockdale for the goal.
“I didn’t want to kick it to the goalie and mess things up, because I didn’t want to let my team down,” Stockdale said. “We always want to score more goals, so getting that second one was definitely satisfying.”
With the win, Calaveras improves to 1-1 in Mother Lode League play, while Bret Harte falls to 1-1. On Jan. 14, Bret Harte will take on Amador in Sutter Creek, while Calaveras faces the Wildcats in Sonora. Both games begin at 5:45 p.m.
“We are on a roller coaster, where we’ll play really well and then really bad,” Williams said. “Hopefully this is a turn for the good and we’ll continue to play well and not go back to where we were.”
Follow Sports Editor Guy Dossi on Twitter at @GuyDossi
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