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The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

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Girls’ soccer ties with Homestead in rainy match

Viking junior defender Polina Van Hulsen keeps the ball away from Mustang attackers during the varsity soccer match on Tuesday against the Homestead Mustangs. Throughout the match, the rain poured down making it hard for the players to play. According to Vikings head coach Jeremy Romero, the Vikings came into the game with something to prove. “Our mindset [coming into the game] was to just continue to prove to everyone that we deserve to be on top of the table,” Romero said. “We need to go out there and show everyone what we’re capable of, and that’s winning every game that we play.” (Photo: Ketan Altekar-Okazaki)

In a game filled with high-scoring offenses, last-minute shots and pounding rain, the Palo Alto High School girls’ soccer team (3-0-2) tied with the Homestead Mustangs (3-2-1), 3-3, in Tuesday’s game at home.

The rain poured down, making the field slippery for the players. However, according to Viking head coach Jeremy Romero, this was not an issue since they practiced for the rain. 

“We prepared for it [the rain] throughout practice this week,” Romero said. “We did this by wetting some of the balls so that the players were familiar with the touches and were familiar with the shots or passes during practices.”

According to Mustang head coach Raquel DeJesus, her team was both mentally and physically prepared for the game and knew that the results would come from the preparation. 

“Our goal was to win again as well as to maintain a positive mentality playing our game and just maintaining possession,” DeJesus said. “We knew that the opportunities would come when we created them.”

The Mustangs started off with a quick lead: in the fourth minute, Mustangs senior forward Annika Wickham zipped through defenders and kicked the ball into the back of the net.

Not wanting the Mustangs to gain more momentum, the Vikings defense stopped several subsequent attempts to break through toward the goal. Viking junior goalie Gal Shoval blocked multiple dangerously close balls from going into the net.

After some back and forth with both defenses holding strong, Viking sophomore attacking midfielder Areet Rao broke past defenders and scored in the 22nd minute, tying the game. Viking freshman center back Nava Schwarzbach subsequently scored with just minutes left in the half, causing the crowd to erupt with cheer and ending the half with a score of 2-1. 

Romero said the Vikings had a pep talk at halftime and knew they had to keep playing their hardest as a team if they wanted to maintain their lead. 

“Our thought process at the half was don’t let off the gas pedal,” Romero said. “Just continue to keep playing our style, and there’s no reason to sit back. We needed to keep trying to get as many goals as possible and keep pushing forward.”

At the start of the second half, it seemed like the Vikings were dominating for the first 10 minutes. However, the Mustangs were able to take back control of the ball and run it, passing it back and forth between Vikings defenders. Mustang junior midfielder Carlie Breiner scored off of a penalty kick, tying the game once more.

Going on the attack, the Vikings pushed back on the Mustangs, with both teams crowding the Mustang goal. After a struggle, the Mustangs made an own goal, and the Vikings were able to pull back in the lead. 

Throughout the second half, the rain progressively worsened, causing multiple slips from both teams and an injury on the Mustangs’ team. According to Mustang senior forward Annika Wickham, the rain made the ball much harder to kick properly. 

“It definitely makes it [the ball] more slippery,” Wickham said. “A lot of passes aren’t quite right, or you just miss the ball entirely, so it’s a little bit harder than normal.”

In the game’s final minutes, Mustang senior defender Reagan Hall shot and arced the ball into the corner of the net, sealing the tie at 3-3 to end the game.

Romero said the Vikings plan going into the coming weeks is to keep on progressing as a team and learning from mistakes.

“Our goal is to continue to prove to everyone why we deserve to stay on top, and we need to take this game as a learning lesson that we’ve got to play to the very end of the whistle,” Romero said. “We’ll grow from this game and continue to push forward.”

According to DeJesus, the Mustangs will continue to practice and improve to be prepared for their games in the future. 

“Tomorrow we will have breakfast, roll out some muscles just to make sure that we’re ready,” DeJesus said. “We don’t have a game until next week so we have a few days to get there, but when we do, we’ll be ready.”

The Vikings are set to play at 6 p.m. Thursday against the Spartans (3-0-2) at Mountain View High School.

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About the Contributors
Ketan Altekar-Okazaki
Ketan Altekar-Okazaki, Senior Staff Writer
Ketan Altekar-Okazaki (Class of 2024) joined The Voice his junior year and enjoys volunteering in his free time.
Joy Tan
Joy Tan, Sports Editor, Multimedia Editor
Joy Tan (class of 2026) joined The Voice in her sophomore year and enjoys playing volleyball and taking photos.
Alex Chang
Alex Chang, Engagement Manager
Alex Chang (Class of 2026) joined The Voice his sophomore year and enjoys playing tennis, meeting new people and reading.

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