The Cats headed to Homestead on Wednesday to take on the second-place Mustangs. The play lingered in the middle half of the field to start the game, with each team’s attacks getting quickly thwarted by the defense. Junior captain Emily Nedom won a corner for the Cats in the 10th minute, but the ensuing kick traveled right to the Homestead keeper. Homestead had a chance in the 14th minute, getting an open look at the goal, but freshman keeper Sahara Melinauskas redirected the ball away from the net. The subsequent Mustang corner kick was quickly controlled by the Cats. In the 17th minute, the Mustangs took another shot that Melinauskas tipped to herself. On the Cat counter, junior Niki Krockenberger controlled the ball on the right sideline, beat her defender up the field, and sent a pass into the box that senior captain Kelli Keady corralled and fired past the diving keeper to give the Cats a 1–0 lead.
The attacks were stifled again for several minutes, as the ball seemed to bounce back-and-forth between the 30-yard lines, neither team getting a good look. But in the 29th minute, Keady got the ball in the midfield, kicked it to senior Lizzy Armstrong on the left side. Armstrong dribbled the ball to the left edge of the box and sent a soaring cross that the Homestead keeper just got a couple fingertips on. The ball continued past the goalie, where Krockenberger tracked it down and buried it in the back of the net. Homestead had a chance in the 38th minute, with two players in the box, but they were not able to get a shot on goal. They tried again, as time was dwindling in the first half, with a shot from 25 yards out, but Melinauskas batted it away and junior Lauren Pederson cleared it from the box as the whistle blew. The Cats had a 2–0 lead at the break.
The Cats did not ease up in the second half. Keady had a win on the right side that led to a corner kick. And Krockenberger had a shot from the right side that the keeper caught. In the 51st minute, Homestead had a wide open look from just outside the box off of a quick cross but sent the ball wide left. Melinauskas had to wrangle another ball in the 58th minute sent her way on a free kick. Six minutes later, senior Haley Blakeman kicked wide to Pederson, who tapped it ahead for Blakeman to track down. She sent a quick cross to Armstrong, who got her head on the ball, sending it up over the goal. In the 69th minute, the scoring drought ended, as Pederson reversed the ball back to Nedom, who, from 35 yards out, launched what is becoming her signature shot over the outstretched arms of the keeper and into the nylon. Three minutes later, Nedom did it again, getting a centering pass from Keady and, from 15 yards out, firing it into the right side of the net past the leaping keeper for her second goal and a Wildcat 4–0 lead. The Mustangs finally broke through in the 74th minute, scoring on a deep kick from the left that Melinauskas could not chase down. The game ended 4–1.
The win improves the Cats’ record to 7-1-1 in league (12-1-3 overall), strengthening their hold on first place. They host the Spartans of Mountain View this Friday for Senior Night, where the Cats will both celebrate their departing teammates and try to avenge their lone loss of the season.