Girls’ soccer fails to defeat Santa Clara

Senior forward Mariana Kessinger holds off a Santa Clara defender during Palo Alto’s 2-2 draw Wednesday at home. Despite their dominance, the Vikings were not able to take advantage and come away with a win. “I think we did play really well, we just could have gotten more shots off. We had a lot of really good runs. I think we played as a team really well together,” Whiteley said. (Photo: Daniel Garepis-Holland)

Despite a dominant performance on the field, the Palo Alto High School girls’ soccer team (1-1-2) were upset with a 2-2 draw against Santa Clara (2-0-3) Wednesday at home.

The Vikings started the game off strong, with junior forward Addie McCarter having an early shot saved by the goalkeeper only two minutes into the game. In the early stages of the game, senior midfielder Katherine Thomsen created multiple scoring chances with highly precise through-passes.

As the game progressed, the Santa Clara Bruins grew stronger defensively and the Vikings struggled to break through their backline, despite multiple free-kick opportunities and shot attempts.

Despite this, the Vikings continued to dominate possession, and the Bruins struggled to break out of their half. Bruin defender Sarah Olson said her team struggled to win possession of contested balls in the midfield.

“One of our issues is that we weren’t winning balls on the first play,” Olson said. “The other team [the Vikings] was very fast to those balls and we weren’t quite there yet. We had a little bit of disorganization in the middle too, but for the most part we were solid on the defense.”

The Vikings’ dominance paid off when junior midfielder Payton Anderson saw her impressive strike from just outside the penalty area sail over the head of the Bruins’ goalkeeper and into the back of the net. 

Only five minutes later, on one of Santa Clara’s first offensive plays into the Vikings’ half of the field, they were able to score off of a corner kick. The goal was completely against the run of play, which was very disappointing for the Vikings, according to junior center back Miya Whiteley.

“It was kind of frustrating for us, especially because it was right at the end of the half and we’d been playing really well all the way through that half,” Whiteley said. “But there’s nothing we could’ve done about that goal. It was just a really good shot by the girl on the other team.”

After the halftime break, the game became more even, with both sides having chances on goal and time on the ball. The Vikings began sending balls over the top of the defense in order to attempt to break down the opponents. This strategy paid off when senior forward Mariana Kessinger rounded the goalkeeper and scored after being played in behind by Anderson.

Fifteen minutes later, the Bruins were able to create chaos in the Vikings’ penalty box, and after their initial shot was cleared off the line, were able to score from just outside of the penalty area and tie up the game with only a few minutes remaining, which served as an important boost to the team’s morale, according to midfielder Jamie Nunes.

“That [goal] definitely lifted our spirits,” Nunes said. “We were really hanging on by a thread at the end.”

The Viking had a few more desperate attempts at the Bruins’ goal during the closing stages, but all of the shots on goal were saved by the Bruins’ goalkeeper. Vikings Head coach Jesse Berta felt the team could have made more out of their opportunities during the game’s frantic ending.

“We could have been a little bit more organized offensively on getting the ball out in the last four minutes,” Berta said.

Overall, the Vikings were disappointed not to come away with a win from the match, especially after the last-minute goal by the Bruins. Despite the fact that the Vikings dominated possession, had many more opportunities and shots on target, they were unable to walk away with the win. 

The Vikings are back in action Friday facing against Los Altos (2-2-1) at 6 p.m. away from home.