Coming off of a tight game in Wednesday’s 2–1 victory over Palo Alto, the Cats tried to strike early in Friday’s home match against Saratoga. In the 4th minute, senior captain Kelli Keady fired a ball past the back line to a sprinting Niki Krockenberger, who came up just short of getting a foot on it before it was corralled by the Falcon keeper. Four minutes later, senior Bella Yore launched a shot from 30 yards out that sailed high and came down over the net.
In the 9th minute, the Cats broke through, as Keady fired a free kick from outside the left edge of the box that found purchase in the right side of the net. The Cats took the early lead and quickly looked to pad it. In the 13th minute, junior captain Emily Nedom won the ball in the middle of the field and sent it down the left side to junior Gianna Dal Porto, who controlled it and fired a beautiful cross that Krockenberger slammed into the net. The goal was disallowed because of an offsides call, keeping the score at 1–0.
The Cats continued to press in the first half, getting three consecutive corners in the 21st minute, but they were unable to capitalize. In the 30th minute, after another corner, the ball ricocheted off of several players before Keady controlled it and pushed a shot over the crossbar. The Falcons did not have a strong offensive performance in the first half, with Cat freshman keeper Sahara Melinauskas stopping both shots she encountered, each originating more than 30 yards from her. Despite numerous chances, the Cats went into the team room at the half only up 1–0.
Nedom had the best chances for the Cats early in the second half. In the 47th minute, she broke free in the middle of the field and fired one high. Ten minutes later, she controlled the ball in the box, turned, and sent a laser just inches over the crossbar. Saratoga immediately countered with a run down the left side, but just as they were about to kick the cross, senior Lainey Engles stole the ball and ended the threat.
Finally, in the 65th minute, the Cats ended their scoring drought when junior Maddie Dang, from the left sideline, found Nedom, kicking ahead to Keady, who reversed field to the right and angled the ball into the left side of the net. The 2-0 lead didn’t last, as just two minutes later, Keady returned the favor, leading Nedom into the box, where she evaded three defenders and buried a goal of her own.
The Falcons threatened in the 73rd minute, when they had a free kick from just outside the box. Melinauskas deflected the ball, and in the scrum that followed, the Cats were whistled for a penalty in the box, giving the Falcons a penalty kick. The kick was successful but was waved off because a Falcon player had entered the box before the penalty kick was initiated. On the re-kick, the ball went just wide of the goal, keeping Saratoga off the board, and eventually leading to the Cats’ 3–0 victory. The win brings the Cats’ league record to 6-1-1 (11-1-3 overall). They remain atop of the standings of the DeAnza League, just one win ahead of Homestead, who they will face on the road next Wednesday.
Note: Times and distances mentioned in this article are approximate.