SONORA – After the eighth straight game without a win, Bret Harte’s first-year head coach Jessica Bowman looked for any silver lining that she could. Missing seemingly half the team with injuries, the Bullfrogs put up as good of a fight as they could against the Sonora Wildcats, who currently sit at the top of the Mother Lode League standings.
In the first meeting between Bret Harte and Sonora, the Wildcats embarrassed the Bullfrogs on their home field in a 10-0 thrashing in Angels Camp. And while Bret Harte was unable to return the favor to Sonora in a 4-1 road loss Thursday night, Bowman was much more pleased with not only the final score, but with the effort given from her team.
“Yeah, this feels better,” Bowman said. “With some of the top teams in the league, we’ve made huge improvements the second time we saw them. We kept our defense a lot tighter and we made a big example of that tonight. We are communicating a lot stronger and we ended up shifting our play to a 4-5-1 tonight, which suited us a lot better defensively. I’m really proud of us all around.”
Bret Harte’s goal was the first scored on Sonora since Jan. 14. Bullfrog Annika Kruger was credited with the score. But before Bret Harte was able to put a score on the board, Sonora (8-0-1 MLL) jumped out to an early lead and at the midway point, led 3-0.
Bret Harte entered the night with only one sub and by halftime, had no more bodies available off the bench. An injury left the Bullfrogs having to play ironman soccer, which is something Bowman knew was a possibility heading into the contest.
“You always worry that your one sub or one player will get injured and then you are really going to be desperate and end up with no subs, which is what happened tonight,” Bowman said. “Our leading scorer ended up with a concussion tonight, which is super unfortunate, but we ended up pulling through and playing players in positions they are not used to being in. Surprisingly, they all ended up performing well in positions that are unconventional for them.”
With Calaveras beating Argonaut Thursday night, Bret Harte was officially eliminated from a possible playoff spot. Now, all that’s left for the Bullfrogs is one final game, which will be Feb. 11 at home against Calaveras. It will be Bowman’s first senior night as head coach and the final soccer game for five of her senior players.
“It’s been such an honor to get to know these seniors,” Bowman said. “I’ve got five really special seniors who I look forward to honoring on Tuesday. Of course, it’s cool that it’s going to be against Calaveras, our big rival of forever. It’s going to be an exciting evening.”
Bret Harte (1-7-1 MLL) will host Calaveras (3-6-0 MLL) at 5:45 p.m., Tuesday Feb. 11 at Dorroh Field in Angels Camp.