Girls’ soccer on edge of elimination after senior night loss

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Girls’ soccer on edge of elimination after senior night loss

Senior Leila Khan fights to keep the ball moving forward as she pushes her way past a Homestead defender. Photo: Tara Kapoor

Senior Leila Khan fights to keep the ball moving forward as she pushes her way past a Homestead defender. Photo: Tara Kapoor

Senior Leila Khan fights to keep the ball moving forward as she pushes her way past a Homestead defender. Photo: Tara Kapoor

Senior Leila Khan fights to keep the ball moving forward as she pushes her way past a Homestead defender. Photo: Tara Kapoor

Tara Kapoor, Staff Writer

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With a playoff berth in the balance, the Palo Alto High School (5-4-7) girls’ varsity soccer team will face off against the Mountain View Falcons on Wednesday after a crushing 3-0 senior night loss to Homestead on Friday.

Junior Jenni Solgaard pushes past a defender by the Homestead goal to keep the ball in bounds near the end of the second half. Solgaard described the importance of the team’s mindset going into the match, and emphasized that the team must maintain the strength to keep fighting regardless of the score. “It’s really just making it a habit of always coming out here and being ready to win, being willing to work as hard as it takes,” Solgaard said. Photo: Tara Kapoor

Despite entering the match with a stronger record than Homestead, the loss has sent the Vikings’ into dangerous territory, requiring them to win their next three league matches for a chance at post-season.

Viking defense put up a tough fight, but gave up three goals over the course of the match, the first two before the 20-minute mark. Head Coach Aramando Luna emphasized the need to take advantage of shooting opportunities, as well as defend the Viking goal.

“We need to be more efficient in finishing when we get [the] opportunity to score, and also in the back,” Luna said. “The other team did not take too many shots, and yet we gave up three goals.”

Sophomore varsity captain Brighid Baker cleared the ball up the field on multiple occasions, providing opportunities for a few offensive shots on Homestead’s keeper. However, the Vikings never found the back of the net, leaving the scoreboard empty at the end of the game.

“We had some really good moments, but the other team just was efficient in their opportunities to score and we weren’t,” Luna said.

Despite being down multiple goals for the entirety of playing time, the Vikings fought hard for every ball until the final whistle.

“Even if it didn’t come together, and we were a little sloppy, and we weren’t quite where we needed to be, I still saw that desire to win throughout the entire game,” junior Jenni Solgaard said. “I think [that] shows that we have the mental strength to get over whatever kept us back in this game.”

As conference matches come to a close, Solgaard said she hopes to see the fire that the team brought to their best performances this season come back before the CCS playoffs.

“It’s a big attitude thing, because we have come out here and played games where we play at this really high level,” Solgaard said. “And then we’ve also played games where we can’t quite have that intensity, where we’re not as sharp as we should be.”

The team honored its seniors at the end of the match with heartfelt posters and balloons for its second-to-last home game of the season. With the excitement of senior night, the team’s focus lacked a bit, according to Luna.

“I think they were very positive and pumped up, but a little a little distracted with senior night, but that’s expected,” Luna said. “It’s impossible not to have that in the back of your mind with all the banners going around.”

The Vikings will play the Mountain View Falcons at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at Mountain View High School. A historically powerful team, the Falcons will be tough competition in the race to the playoffs as the league season comes to a close.