For a couple of hours on a cool Southern California afternoon, stretching into the early evening, life on the competitive soccer pitch seemed almost normal. Almost. The Cate girls varsity soccer team traveled to Ventura to take on the Seraphs of St. Bonaventure High School for our league opener. Bringing some confidence in our possession-based game and an eagerness to stamp our mark on the league, the team exuded energy, determination, and composure from the first whistle. Early on, the strategy became clear; we needed to neutralize the St. Bonnie long ball to their forward line while changing the point of attack to find a way past a solid central defender. Our midfield worked tirelessly to win fifty-fifty balls and set up the attack. Jolea Moes ’21 and Emie Nam ’23 bolted down the midfield, and Charlotte Weis ’22, Tali Nam ’21, and Francesca Castellarin ’22 made probing runs on the flanks. Forwards Coco Le Roy ’22, Gigi Geyer ’23, and Ryan Lack ’21 found themselves with the ball in and around the penalty area, but couldn’t quite latch onto the final pass for a scoring shot. The Seraphs countered often and quickly, but Rachel Ma ’23 and Olivia Dorion ’22 closed down a speedy forward, and Tamsyn Taptich ’23 and Josie Frazier ’24 provided coordinated pressure and cover. These two outside backs also got involved in forays into the opponents’ half, which helped keep our offensive pressure high and paid off later in the game. Despite opportunities on both ends, and a couple of clutch saves, which would have been spectacular for most goalkeepers, but made to look almost routine by Taylor Kane ’21, the game entered the seventy-fifth minute scoreless.
At half-time, the Seraphs moved their skilled and speedy center back into the striker position, and she proved to be a serious threat from that position for the remainder of the game. In the seventy-fifth minute, she benefited from a ricochet to carry the ball to the goal and score the first of the contest. Far from being dejected, our team rallied around the energy and fire of senior leaders Tali, Jolea, and Taylor. Additionally, we moved our not-so-secret weapon, Rachel, from the central defending role to an attacking position. This switch was enabled by the play of Ava Bracher ’23 who brought dependable and aggressive play to the midfield. With almost no time remaining on the clock, Charlotte let loose on a rocket of a shot from twenty-five yards on the right flank. It was struck so hard it bounced off the chest of the goalkeeper before she could wrap her arms around it, and Rachel made sure the rebound found the back of the net with the equalizer only seconds from full time.
The first of two ten-minute overtime periods saw us retain momentum and pressure the opposing goal. Just three minutes into the segment, outside back Josie, on one of her advance forays, opened her Cate account by pouncing on a loose ball outside the penalty area and shooting first-time, whistling the ball past a helpless keeper and putting the squad ahead for the first time in the game. The final seventeen minutes were nervous times for both sides. St. Bonnie looked for a quick equalizer, and Cate sought to take time off of the clock with our possession game. In the second minute of the second overtime period, the Seraphs’ center forward again latched on to a very long ball from the back and notched her second goal of the game to tie it up. Not to be outdone, and with a flair for the dramatic, Taylor lashed a punt that cleared the St. Bonnie defensive line, and Rachel tracked it down to score her second of the game to put Cate ahead 3-2 with two minutes remaining. When the final whistle blew, the women of Cate soccer, with unbridled joy not seen on a pitch since before the pandemic, gathered around the captains and celebrated a total team triumph. Almost normal, indeed.
It was a treat to share this experience with all the fans who came to support the team and witness this inspirational event. We are so grateful.
We next take on the Dragons of Foothill Technology High School at Cate on Friday, April 23 at 4:30 pm.